P.S. I Love You

P.S. I Love You


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

What do women want? Gerry isn't sure, and it turns out, in time, that neither is his wife Holly. Neither, apparently, are the creators of this film, who have done their best to cater to every variant they can think of. The equivalent is rather like mixing bright red, yellow and blue paints together and watching them turn out a dull brown.

P.S. I Love You is a colour-by-numbers romantic drama, but it does start with an interesting premise. Holly and Gerry fought, of course, like most couples; and they made big plans which they never got round to fulfilling; and then, unexpectedly, Gerry died. We see Holly at his wake, surrounded by her well-meaning family. What will she do now? How will she learn to live independently? As it turns out, for the meantime at least, she won't have to. A series of letters and other, unexpected communications reveal that Gerry made plans for Holly beyond his own death. Following his instructions, she is gradually able to come to terms with her feelings about him and about his death.

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It's a potentially powerful story and it seems effective at reducing many cinema-goers to tears. Hilary Swank makes Holly an odd but sympathetic heroine, a bit more three-dimensional than many, while Gerard Butler is easy going and likable as the man she has lost. Harry Connick Jr puts in an interesting turn as a possible romantic interest, a man whose Asperger's makes for refreshingly abrupt communication, but in his moments of sounding less unusual - when, for instance, he complains about being a shoulder to cry on, as if friendship isn't worth the effort if he's not going to get laid - one wonders why Holly doesn't just punch him.

That, ultimately, is the film's weakness. Holly's friends and sister, who have so little personality that one can only really tell them apart by their hair, crowd and harass her throughout her bereavement, yet after she's finally snapped and ignored them for a while, she's the one who apologises. Sure, she might consider herself lucky to receive support, yet space and respect seem to be off the menu. Her acceptance of a system whereby she is allowed to grieve but only within a strict set of guidelines seems at odds with her personality and the free-thinking drive which, it would appear, was what Gerry fell in love with.

The film scores some points for an occasionally witty script and a depiction of Ireland which, refreshingly for an American film, manages to resemble the real thing, despite being populated by Scots and Americans. Towards the end it does manage to stray a little off the beaten track, but the downside of this is that it drags on for far too long, meandering through a series of almost-endings and thus lacking any firm sense of conclusion.

Of course, in this topsy-turvy love story, what we're looking at is less a conclusion and more a beginning, but after all that's happened, Holly's world seems smaller in a whole lot of ways, lacking the real sense of possibility that she seemed to be looking for. You might fall in love with this film, but you'll feel a little awkward in the morning.

Reviewed on: 15 Dec 2007
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P.S. I Love You packshot
A widow is guided through her bereavement by a series of letters her husband wrote to surprise her with.
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Caro Ness ***

Director: Richard LaGravenese

Writer: Richard LaGravenese, Steven Rogers, based on the novel by Cecilia Ahern

Starring: Hilary Swank, Gerard Butler, Lisa Kudrow, Gina Gershon, Kathy Bates, Harry Connick Jr., Jeffrey Dean Morgan

Year: 2007

Runtime: 126 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US


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