P.S. I LOVE YOU review

Category: P.S. I Love You Reviews | Posted by: stagewomanjen
Article Date: December 21, 2007 | Publication: aintitcool.com | Author: Capone
Publication/Article Link:http://www.aintitcool.com/node/35134

I'll admit I have a soft spot for the words of Richard LaGravenese, who occasionally steps behind the camera to direct as well, as he has done for two 2007 releases: FREEDOME WRITERS, which came out the first weekend in January, and this week's P.S. I LOVE YOU, both of which star Hilary Swank.

LaGravenese has a strange way of taking stories that sound preposterous when you hear them but somehow work to one degree or another on film, such as his writing work on THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY, THE HORSE WHISPERER, and his best original screenplay LIVING OUT LOUD, which marked his debut as a director. You can debate the merits of any of the films I've just listed, but they all kind of worked for me.

P.S. I LOVE YOU wins the award for the worst trailer of the year; I was truly dreading this movie. But once again LaGravenese makes an outright nonsense premise work…most of the time…thanks to a cast that clearly believes in this material. This time around, Swank plays New York real estate agent Holly Kennedy, who is married to an Irish man named Gerry (played by 300's Gerard Butler, overflowing with manly man charm).

Early in the film, Gerry dies of a brain tumor, but before he croaked, he managed to secretly leave behind a series of letters and other arrangements for Holly to find. At first we're not 100 percent sure what the point of these letters and plans are, but after a while it becomes clear that Gerry is mapping the route for his wife to come out of her deeply set depression after his death.

Fans of Butler shouldn't fear. Just because he dies doesn't mean he doesn't appear throughout the film, either in flashbacks of the young couple first meeting and falling in love or as a sort of apparition for Holly to talk to and remember him fondly. Some of Gerry's pre-arranged efforts seem a tad far-fetched, including a trip to Ireland for Holly and her two best friends (Gina Gershon and Lisa Kudrow) to take in the hopes of maybe finding a nice new man for Holly.

A dialed-back Kathy Bates is really strong here as Holly's mother, who never really liked Gerry and thinks these letters are some kind of cruel exercise to make it impossible for her daughter to get over her loss. My favorite character is Daniel (Harry Connick Jr.), the bartender at Holly's mom's Irish bar. You may think you have Daniel's role in things figured out early on as he and Holly become friendly, but don't be so sure. Connick's forthright delivery is wonderful, as Daniel blurts out exactly what he's thinking, even if it comes out sounding like an insult. After seeing Connick play variations of a much smoother ladies' man, it was fun to see him play a character so utterly awkward, with barely an ounce of charm in him. As much as I found P.S. I LOVE YOU contrived at times, I must give some mention to the packed house (of mostly women) with whom I saw this film.

Every time Holly got a new letter…each one sweeter than the last…tears starting flowing like Niagara Falls. So if you're prone to crying, you better pack a box of that tissue with aloe; you're going to be rubbing your nose and eyes quite a lot. That said, I actually liked most of this film. It's far too long, and there are a few moments where I couldn't help but roll my eyes in the dark at how stupid the plot was getting, but Swank, Butler, Connick and everybody else really sell this thing and elevate the material far higher than your average tearjerker. If the phrase "chick flick" hadn't been invented already, it might have been for this film. You may not love this one, but I think some part of you might let it in your heart just a little.