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While on holiday, Theresa (Robin Wright Penn) finds a message in a bottle while walking along a deserted beach. The message, a letter signed "G", moves Theresa, who begins a search for its author. Her search eventually takes her to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, to a sailboat builder called Garret Blake (Kevin Costner). Since the death of his wife, Garret has lead a solitary existence but his father Dodge (Paul Newman) encourages him to start afresh.

"Message in a Bottle is a variation on the theme so successfully exploited by Sleepless in Seattle, but doesn't quite capture the full extent of that film's flair and charm. The first hour is filled with promise and grace. Disappointingly, the second hour disintegrates into a melodrama that is totally contrived and unbelievable. It's the script that's at fault, fluctuating from moments of promise and charm, to sheer and utter nonsense. But it's easy to forgive a great deal in this gentle romance, largely due to the luminous charisma of Robin Wright Penn, and a compelling cameo performance by the illustrious Paul Newman. Wright Penn is greatly underrated, and she clearly shows her range and versatility here with a performance rich in textures and emotions. Kevin Costner's star quality prevails, although he is at times wooden, albeit that’s the nature of his character. The love relationship is devoid of passion; there's plenty of melancholy and anticipation, but a shortage of sparks and sizzle. The joys come from Newman's scene stealers as the gruff, sharp-shooting dad – never has he been more entertaining and delightful. Watch out for Robbie Coltrane who adds zest. Beautiful to look at with stunning cinematography capturing the picturesque, tranquil settings, there is a delightful lyrical music score, with its ethereal mood. There are some magical moments, largely due to the strong performances, and these alone are worth the two hour running time. But this top cast deserves a better script."
Louise Keller

"With Message in a Bottle Hollywood has rediscovered romance in its purest form, and the result is a gloriously crafted and lyrically poetic work, full of nicely detailed characters and a sharply realised adaptation of the best selling novel. Here is a film that works as a study of loss, choice and the determination to free oneself from the confined shackles of a difficult past. It's a deceptively simple film, it appears, yet one which shines in its depiction of honest emotions. Mexican director Luis Mandoki has helmed his film with certain straightforwardness, yet manages to keep his film moving in such a way as to intricately develop his characters for us. Studio films tend to shy away from character-driven drama, but this is one works rather well. The performances are all terrific. Costner goes back to the incommunicative romantic lug he does so well, and as Garret, he's perfect, the right combination of introspective loner and romantic lost soul. Robin Wright Penn is luminous, her performance one of intelligence and naturalism, rather than that of a made over Hollywood star; Paul Newman, as usual, steals the film as Costner's feisty dad. His scenes with Costner are unforgettable. Smaller roles such as Robbie Coltrane as Penn's editor are delightful. Other technical aspects of the film are striking, from the hypnotic cinematography of Caleb Deschenel, to the haunting musical underscore of Gabriel Yared. Message in a Bottle is sublime poetry in motion; a completely old fashioned charmer of a film that offers beguiling entertainment for the romantic in all of us."
Paul Fischer

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CAST: Kevin Costner, Robin Wright Penn, Paul Newman, Illeana Douglas, Robby

Coltrane, John Savage, Jesse James

DIRECTOR: Luis Mandoki

PRODUCER: Denise Di Novi, Jim Wilson, Kevin Costner

SCRIPT: Gerald DiPego, based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks


MUSIC: Gabriel Yared

RUNNING TIME: 130 minutes



VIDEO RELEASE: October 5, 1999


DVD: $34.95

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