"The Postman" Review
© 1997 Fontaine L.
- spoilers -

I was having quite a hard time critiquing this film, until I saw that Siskel & Ebert (who at times are often more comical than critical) gave it a two thumbs down, calling it an "embarassing, embarassing film" and saying that it made the Worst of 1997 list. I don't entirely agree with them, but they helped me pinpoint exactly what was irritating me about the film.

It was a great idea watered down and stretched too long.

The movie is noble and attractive in its story and message. There are many moving moments and majestic scenes. But for the last half of film, I was left wondering when the movie was ever going to end. There were too many unnecessary scenes, too much screen time given to the Postman pondering over his life and such. The movie could have made its point, leave the audience a lasting impression, and end while that impression lingers on. But it chose to overstay its welcome.

And that Kevin Costner is obssessed with himself.

Maybe Costner didn't intend to make himself the noble savage who saves the whole world in every movie ("Waterworld," "Dances With Wolves"). Maybe he never wanted to portray himself in a holy light, but it comes off that way in the aforementioned two films he made, and in "The Postman" also. The audience is tired of seeing the same thing done over and over again. Maybe that's why "Tin Cup" was so refreshing. I haven't seen "Waterworld," and I was too young when "Dances With Wolves" came out, but I'm getting pretty sick of Costner in "The Postman" already.

But honest to God, I like this film. Enough with the cynicism already, I like being cheered up. I like the feeling I had while sitting in the theatre, which was an overwhelming sense of gratitude to the people who deliver my mail to me everyday. The people who give me mail from my friends afar, who tell me I may have already won 100 million, who tell me I owe my credit card company five thousand bucks. All that and more. People have ceased to realize that in the electronic age. But let's move on. Olivia Williams (Abby) is a star on the rise. Her frank manner, light laugh, and easy affability make her a charm on screen. And with the many qualms I had with this film, one I didn't have was a problem with Costner's acting. In fact, there is no fault I can find in any of the actors' performances.

Sadly what keeps this movie from being great is that the world it depicts is a fantasy world, a world that is too fairytale-esque to be believed. It makes war and destruction seem like a trivial matter, and conquest seems like child's play. The enemy is too easily defeated: are we to believe that the force who destroyed the United States is subdued just by challenging "the Leadership"? And yes, this is the 21st century, and even though there has been a nuclear war, are we to believe that these people have suddenly stopped using cars, modern weapons, and computers? And oh, maybe I didn't know, but the leader of that so-unbelievable clan is an idiot: he knows "Shakespeare" thoroughly, but he doesn't even remember what the Postman looks like. It wasn't that long ago, trust me. The truth is, war is a difficult subject to handle, but for the sake of portraying the God-like Postman, its importance is diminished.

But as I've said, with our cynicism, let's not overlook what this film has brought us. Maybe it's just me, and maybe I haven't lived long enough to be able to see through these things, but I really appreciate the many moving moments this film bought me. I can be grateful for at least that.

Hope received, Mr. Postman.

Rating: B- (12/27/97)