P.S., I Love You review
Category: P.S. I Love You Reviews | Posted by: stagewomanjen
Article Date: December 26, 2007 | Publication: The Sydney Morning Herald | Author: Paul Byrnes
A Mills and Boon with a superior cast, which avoids the unpleasant truths of real life.
The Irish writer Cecelia Ahern had the idea for P.S. I Love You while still in school. She was 21 when her book became an Irish best-seller, topping the sales lists for 19 weeks. It went on to big success in many other countries. Her father is Bertie Ahern, the Irish Prime Minister.
P.S. I Love You was about a Dublin woman of 30, Holly Kennedy. She had married the man of her dreams, then lost him to a brain tumour. The novel begins with her already grieving - not wanting to leave the house or "get some fresh air", as her mother advises. She just wants to remember her Gerry and cry her "fat, salty tears".
The movie has been relocated to New York City and Americanised. Gerry (Gerard Butler), still alive at the outset, is an Irishman who came to live with Holly (Hilary Swank) in her home town. We see them in full romantic bloom. After dinner at her mother's they argue about when to have children, with Swank stripping down to her underclothes as she's yelling at the well-hewn Butler (Leonidas from 300). He storms out in his singlet before they rush back into each other's arms and make wild, passionate love.
Then he's dead and Holly is in black, stumbling around the wake at her mother's Irish bar, where Harry Connick jnr is the barman. For the next few weeks she spirals downhill, ignoring the phone and crying. The apartment becomes a garbage dump but there's an upside: Gerry is back, playing his guitar on the couch, at least in her hallucinations.
On her 30th birthday, her mother, Patricia (Kathy Bates), arrives with her two best friends, Sharon (Gina Gershon) and Denise (Lisa Kudrow). They bring a surprise. Before he died, Gerry organised a birthday cake and a tape recording. This tells Holly that he has a plan. He has written letters, to help her through her grief. They will come at various times, from various sources, without warning. Her heart leaps; she goes out with her chums and gets hammered. She throws up on Connick's shoes.
Whether you find the letters idea creepy or romantic might depend on your experience of grief. I may be wrong but I don't think Ms Ahern knows the first thing about the subject. She does have great instincts for the kind of sentimentalism that some readers will devour, though.
P.S. I Love You is basically a Mills and Boon with a superior cast. It is calculated to avoid the unpleasant truths of real life at every opportunity, even though it's about one of the biggies. Holly's grief is picturesque, rather than devastating.
Holly's marriage is similarly well-designed to appeal to young women with fantasies about the man they haven't met yet, let alone the one that got away. Gerry is hunky, musical, sparkling, funny - not to mention thoughtful. And a helluva correspondent for a man with a brain tumour!
Richard LaGravenese directed Swank in Freedom Writers, a much better movie from last year. He and she have more talent than this film requires.