Nicholas Sparks’ writing has mesmerized readers across the globe. Many of his books have been made into movies and ‘Message in a Bottle’ is another feather in his cap. However, as the case in many movies based on books, ‘Message in a Bottle’ too fails to capture the essence of Sparks’ novel.
The movie opens to a beautiful setting. You get a panaromic view of the beach as the protagonist stumbles upone her discovery.Reporter Theresa Osborne finds a bottle with a touching letter written by a man to the love of his life. She takes it to the newspaper, Chicago Tribune, which she works for where the heart tugging words become a big mystery. Who is this man? What is his story?
When she sets out to unravel the mystery she falls for him. Garret Blake is a North Carolina boat-restorer who has not been the same since the tragic death of his beloved wife, Catherine. Since her death, Garret has written several letters to her, put them in bottles and had thrown them out to sea.
As their romance blossoms, Theresa neglects to tell Garret that she knows about the letters. Prodded by his no-nonsense father, Dodge, Garret too emerges out of his shell of grief and opens his heart to the new women in his life.
When Theresa returns to Chicargo Garret visits her there and meets her son Jason who had been visiting Theresa’s cheating husband. When Garret finally discovers one of the letters he has written to Catherine in Theresa’s possession, he loses it. Eventually the two, who have both lost out on love, need to cast their emotions aside and decide whether to pursue love even if it can’t last long.
Robin Wright Penn makes a charming Theresa. She sparkles on screen and captivates the audience’s attention throughout the movie. Paul Newman too makes a strong impact in the supporting role of Garret’s father. He provides just the right hint of comedy which keeps his charatcer in the picture.
Kevin Costner’s role, in comparison to Penn’s, is bland. Though Garret is suppose to be the strong and silent type, he is a bore to the viewers. Sullen and overbearing, he is at times even a bully to Catherine’s grief sticken relatives.The only way he fits the character penned in the novel is through his physical attractiveness.
Sometimes the emotional baggage in the movie is tiresome rather then heartfelt. Too many shots capture sunsets or sunrises so that they seem monotonous. At such times the audience cannot help wishing that the story would zoom to the finale.
One of the most significant changes which does not tally with the book is the fact that the Catherine in the movie has a family of angry relatives. This serves no purpose in the story and only lengthens it.
Then the story seems to be cut short and the director, Luis Mandoki seems to be in a hurry to wrap up the tale. The final incidents of Garret’s death and Theresa’s healing period seem to be put before the audience without even giving them adequate time to absorb the new turn of events. It is predictable too since there is always a tragic ending to Sparks’ work.
“Message in a Bottle’ is a fairly decent romantic movie. It is better than most of the movies made out of Sparks’ work but if you are hoping to spend a few bucks to watch this at a theatre, then it is better to keep the money aside until something better comes along. If, as they say, you’re in a mood to unleash your emotions, ‘Message in a Bottle’ can be just the ticket for you.