Sunday 31 January 2021

Movie Review: P.S. I Love You (2007)

A romantic drama with some humour, P.S. I Love You explores the depths of grief with a polished wink. The romance is heartfelt, but the movie suffers from bloat and some drudgerous pacing.

New Yorkers Holly and Gerry Kennedy (Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler) have been married for nine years. They bicker about money, jobs and when to have a baby, but they are still very much in love. When Gerry dies due to a brain tumour, Holly is devastated and left without her soul mate. Her mother Patricia (Kathy Bates) as well as best friends Denise (Lisa Kudrow) and Sharon (Gina Gershon) do their best to console her. Bartender Daniel (Harry Connick Jr.) also offers a shoulder to lean on.

On her 30th birthday Holly receives the first of 10 pre-arranged letters from Gerry, encouraging her to be adventurous and visit his home town in Ireland. While the letters keep her emotionally tied to her deceased husband, she also starts to emerge out of her depression, reuniting with Gerry's parents and meeting his hunky best friend William (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). But finding her new calling in life will be a challenge.

Demonstrating courage to introduce the central couple then kill off the guy within the first 10 minutes, P.S. I Love You immediately dares to be different. Director Richard LaGravenese co-wrote the script adaptation of Cecelia Ahern's book, and allows the love between Holly and Gerry to wash over the grieving widow through a series of flashbacks as she follows his advice in the mysteriously delivered letters.

Gerry's immense continued influence in Holly's life is also conveyed in his occasional post-death presence at their apartment and in her bed, her longing for his voice, touch and companionship emerging as palpable and painfully real.

But LaGravenese also overstates the strength and scope of the story. P.S. I Love You extend to a wholly unnecessary 125 minutes. The editing is flabby, and on several occasions songs are belted out almost in their entirety to pad the running time. The tired cliche of Ireland as a magically perfect place filled with nothing but rolling green hills and jolly salt-of-the-earth types is trotted out for another outing.

Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler try their hands at romance with mixed results. They convince as a committed couple, and Swank allows herself to drown in a sea of grief and seething anger at life's unfairness. But they are on much less secure ground in the flashbacks to their earliest meetings as 19 year olds. Both actors are well into their 30s and poor impersonators of footloose teens.

The supporting cast provides good touches of humour. Lisa Kudrow's Denise is on a single-minded mission to find a husband using a utilitarian checklist, and Harry Connick Jr.'s Daniel does not allow the missing filter between his brain and mouth to impede his confidence.

Mixing pathos with playfulness, P.S. I Love You is a poignant if somewhat ponderous postscript.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

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