The Postman

Year: 1997
Studio: Warner Bros
Director: Kevin Costner
Producer: Kevin Costner
Writer: David Brin/Eric Roth/Brian Helgeland
Cast: Kevin Costner, Olivia Williams, Will Patton, Giovanni Ribisi
Few moviegoers can think of this film without remembering the Simpsons episode where the film's DVD commentary is playing in the Simpson household, Costner repeating 'I'm sorry, I'm really sorry'.

This was one of many nails in the coffin of the former Hollywood golden boy. But like all movies with this sort of reputation, it's not bad enough to make you violently sick as you'd expect. The idea from David Brin (writer of the greatest novel ever written, Earth), is actually a very solid one.

It's post apocalypse America, and a lone wanderer (Costner) travels the land with his donkey companion, making a living by putting on hammy Shakespeare performances - more or less the same character he played in Waterworld.

But brutal self-appointed army commander General Bethlehem (Patton) is rounding up able-bodied men to force them into the army he intends to use to take control of everything that remains. There's a nice motif that captures just how wholly the world has been turned upside down when Bethlehem reveals his humble origins from that of a copy machine salesman, and now here he is conquering and uniting what's left of America.

When the traveller is press-ganged into service by the General, he makes his escape the first chance he gets and finds an abandoned US postal service van with the dead driver still in it.

Realising he's found his latest scam, he travels between towns delivering the letters that never made it, bringing fictional good news so people feed and house him. But the unexpected side effect is that he brings hope back to people as he's unwittingly reunited people with each other and given them hope for a future, becoming a symbol for the future.

It's actually a pretty good if slightly colourless post apocalypse movie. Most of the criticism for the whole film should really be targeted at a single sequence, when the little kid is holding the mail up for collection and Kevin spins round on his horse, charging back to grab the letter from the kid in slow motion to the crashing and ringing of a great orchestra.

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