By Ilana Lindsey | December 7, 1998

When questioned as to why he chose to concentrate on the character and backstory of a male supporting character at the expense of his female protagonist Australian director John Ruane replied, “Yes, I think that’s probably one of the film’s weakest areas.” He then proceeded to list more – the film needs more comedy and lacks a strong moral. He’s not particularly impressed with his own film and expects that it will be broadcast on British television but never released theatrically. Dead Letter Office tells the story of Alice who has been writing letters to her absent father for twenty years only to have them returned stamped with the logo of the Dead Letter Office. She decides to get a job at the Office, thinking this will make it easier for her to find her father. Once there she meets a variety of misfits and becomes obsessed with the pain and desperation expressed in letters sent to God, dead relatives and lost lovers. At first her na•ve optimist clashes with the controlled pragmatism of, Frank, her sexy but haunted South American boss, but soon he’s teaching her how to salsa.
Miranda Otto is chirpy and engaging as Alice but she’s let down by a stiff performance from George Del Hoyo as, Frank. The film glosses over some dark and potentially interesting ideas about loss in favour of shallow and irritatingly formulaic genre conventions. The ending of the never believable story is painfully contrived and overly sentimental.

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