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Romance Interrupted

Category: P.S. I Love You Reviews
Article Date: January 2, 2008 | Publication: | Author: Mitchell Warren

Posted by: stagewomanjen

P.S. I Love You tells the story of a young widower named Holly Kennedy. Played by Hillary Swank (who is obsessively taking on ultra-feminine roles as of late) Holly appears to be a rather self-absorbed young woman who doesn't fully appreciate her cute Irish husband Gerry (played by Gerard Butler). According to formula, she must learn her lesson, and so is devastated when Gerry dies a short time after one of their many silly fights. Remarkably, the film continues to play as a romance comedy even after the death of the leading man. There are multiple flashbacks as to Gerry and Holly's past relationship even while Holly learns to cope with loss in the present.

The narrative of the film is on the premise of posthumous "letters" sent to Holly by the deceased. He is really dead, but did a very smart thing by writing letters in advance that address his widowed wife and explain point-by-point how to let go of the past. Of course, the conflict of the film lies in Holly and her family (two sisters and a meddling mother) who react to this quaint expression of love. Is it really loving what Gerry did or does it border on the cruel and unusual? After all, how can a person forget the past and move on with her life if a certain someone is still cracking jokes from the sweet hereafter? The film draws this concept out and mixes some heavy grief with some more absurd moments of comedy. The truly amazing feat however, lies in the fact that P.S. I Love You continues to play as a classic romance long after the thud of the protagonist.

There is no denying that Gerard Butler drives the film. His fanciful charisma carries the picture through its awkward introduction and as far as the weeping conclusion. There are other male love interests that catch Holly's eye (one of which inherits the predictable) but none of them come close to stealing Gerry's spot as the quintessential Irish romantic. In fact, the other would-be suitors of Holly are the film's primary weakness. (Some contrived scenes here and there notwithstanding)

Harry Connick Jr. plays Daniel, a family friend and acquaintance, who has a crush on Holly but some astonishingly retarded social skills. Unfortunately, screenwriters Richard LaGravenese and Steven Rogers try and pass Daniel off as a witty screen presence when in actuality he comes across as a deviant malcontent, alien in his affection, mysterious in his motivations, and with all the charm of Frankenstein trying to play George Costanza. Harry Connick Jr. is actually an underrated actor and seems to enjoy playing bizarre screen characters. You almost feel that Connick Jr. grew bored with the screenwriters' creation and attempted to inject some creative heroine into the arms of this opposites-attract love interest. The experiment failed. This monster is not alive. The final act of the screenplay alludes to this failed characterization and tries to laugh it off with a few sitcom cliches. Lucky for P.S. I Love You, the heavy grief is enough to soak up this mulch.

Weaknesses aside, P.S. I Love You is an affectionate film, if occasionally limited in imagination. However, the flick has a deep romantic soul; it may be the only film in recent memory that made us root for a love story that we knew was ultimately doomed.

Grade: B+


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