To have loved and lost

Category: P.S. I Love You Reviews | Posted by: stagewomanjen
Article Date: January 17, 2008 | Publication: FSView | Author: James Dufoe
Publication/Article Link:http://media.www.fsunews.com/media/storage/paper920/news/2008/01/17/ArtsLife/To.Have.Loved.And.Lost-3153074.shtml

Holly (Hilary Swank) and Gerry Kennedy (Gerard Butler) were madly in love. They may have fought, as they do in the first scene of this film, but theirs was a surviving relationship. Death was the only thing that could have come between them. Unfortunately, it did.

After the first scene, in which Holly and Gerry argue over apartments, money and all that other relationship stuff, the film proceeds to Gerry's funeral. A cliché funeral scene is thankfully avoided, as the procession takes place in a bar. Gerry's family and friends drink to his memory and Holly struggles to cope with the fact that she will never again see her husband.

After spending weeks holed up in her apartment, Holly's family and friends come over to celebrate her birthday. It is here that she is graced with an unexpected gift. A package comes for her, inside of which is a tape recorder. The voice of the late Gerry resounds from it. His voice informs a choked up Holly that he has written her letters "that will be coming to her in all sorts of ways."

The letters, which Gerry had been writing to Holly before his imminent death from a brain tumor, challenge Holly to come out of her comfort zone and take control of her life, not to mention provide Holly and her two friends (Lisa Kudrow and Gina Gershon) with a planned trip to Ireland.

The trip takes the audience back to where the young couple first met, displaying a series of heart-melting flashbacks. It's laughter one moment, tears the next, as the tale of Holly and Gerry's relationship is recounted.

This is her journey's climax, as her mother (Kathy Bates) makes Holly aware that, although it would be easier, she cannot allow herself to cling to Gerry forever. The letters will eventually stop coming, and her life will have to continue without them.

Swank and Butler have incredible chemistry. The audience feels Gerry's presence, as Holly does, even after he is gone. The scenes in Ireland, when Gerry and Holly first meet, are the most enjoyable and most difficult to watch. Seeing the two come together is soothing, yet bittersweet, because they will too soon be torn apart.

Bates was a perfect addition to this film. She makes the most of her scant screen time and nearly steals the show from Swank in a couple of scenes. Also, notable performances by Kudrow, Gershon, and Harry Connick Jr., who plays a very outspoken bartender, are effective in balancing out the melancholy.

Perhaps the most amazing aspect of the film is that the audience's emotional attachment is not limited to Holly. Instead, there are many instances where the tears flow for Gerry, as he seems to be right beside her the entire time, but unable to reach out and touch her.

P.S. I Love You is capable of melting even the iciest of hearts. The touching performances by the usually more rough-around-the-edges Swank and Butler, and much appreciated comedic relief from the supporting cast, make this film meaningful and enjoyable.