A beautiful romance that somehow plays sweet without ever plummeting to saccharine depths and sincere without becoming insipid, Message In A Bottle is the kind of small drama light on histrionics and bombast, that is often overlooked by critics and theatergoers. Yet, it stays with you longer than any disease-of-the-week melodrama or overblown courtroom drama.
Theresa Osborne (Robin Wright), a lonely researcher for a syndicated columnist discovers a glass bottle washed ashore Cape Cod with an impassioned appeal for forgiveness inside. The columnist publishes the letter and sets off a furor of sightings up and down the Atlantic seaboard -- several more bottles have been found all containing letters longing for a wronged wife named Catherine.
Theresa traces the stationery to a fishing village in North Carolina and travels there to scoop the story. The letter writer turns out to be Garret Blake (Kevin Costner), a recently widowed shipbuilder who lives with his father, Dodge (Paul Newman) near the bay. Embroiled in a battle with his wife’s family and unable to get beyond her death, Garret falls for Theresa in spite of himself.
Kevin Costner delivers a steady-handed, subtle performance on a par with his work in Field Of Dreams. Paul Newman is terrific, although that almost goes without saying, and Robin Wright’s portrayal of Theresa is imbued with Wright’s signature grace.