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Friday, 23 February 2018

Retro Review: P.S. I Love You (2007)

P.S I Love You
Cast: Hilary Swank, Gerard Butler, Lisa Kudrow, Gina Gershon, James Marsters, Harry Connick Jr, Jeffrey Dean Morgan 
Genre: Drama
Worldwide Box Office Gross; over $156 million 

Plot: A young widow discovers her late husband has left her 10 messages intended to help ease her pain & start a new life

'Lightweight Drama That Unfortunately Skips The Realities Of Life After Death'

The question of love after death has been explored before in the 1990 smash hit, Ghost and writer-director, Richard LaGravanese further delves into this aspect in this romantic drama that veers towards TV movie territory. Besides that, the so-called romantic drama, P.S I Love You opts for a tone that takes the film away from the potency and drama, which this film needed more of, the fact it chooses to go down the lighter path and tries to avoid what it is so afraid of saying in its subject matter, brings this film down a notch. 

After the unforeseen death of her Irish husband, Gerry from a brain tumour - which isn't shown onscreen - which shatters her heart, American wife, Holly comes across some letters, some which are written, others in audio form, that he wrote for her before he passed away, and in these letters are instructions on how she's supposed to spend and live each day. Through this, it acts as the healing process as Holly grieves and mourns his death and eventually coming to terms with the fact that she has to move forward - if she is to ever get over this trauma. 

Hilary Swank is a good actress in dramatic roles, but romantic drama/comedy is not her territory, and rather Reese Witherspoon, who has proven in Just Like Heaven or Jennifer Garner would have been the better fit for this type of vehicle and who would have provided that girl-next-door charm, in addition to the softer qualities that Swank doesn't manage to carve out. The supporting roles, on the other hand, feel a tad more sufficient with post- Friends' Lisa Kudrow, Gina Gershon and Buffy The Vampire Slayer's James Marsters faring better than Swank and her co-star, Gerard Butler as Irishman Gerry. I was surprised by Jeffrey Dean Morgan's Irish accent; it sounded very convincing and he hasn't disappointed me in any of his roles so far. Yet he is still appealing on- screen when he's not trying to be. I'd take him over Javier Bardem, but hey that's me. 

LaGravanese's efforts have been a mixed bag, but when he is a really good writer & gives it everything, it evidently shows in The Fisher King (despite how patchy that was in places), The Bridges of Madison County and Living Out Loud, where he manages to tap into the emotional arc of the romantic aspect of those movies. Yet with Freedom Writers, he hasn't been able to grind out that depth that is expected. & sadly, with P.S. I Love You, the film makes that same mistake here. It never truly expands on its idea. The so-called lighter moments, like the Karaoke singing, were occasionally cringe and weren't really amusing when they tried to be. In such a film that is truly crying out for a screenplay that treats its subject matter, as difficult as it is, with more gusto, thought and serious intention, P.S I Love You is just not that movie. Which is a crying shame, as the idea is good, but the execution lacks weight with an opening as awkward as it was. The one good thing is that it didn't descend into a dark and dreary territory, but still, it feels too lightweight & one-note with a ductile and insipid screenplay and such cloying sentimentality when it should have been more forceful and punchy and the film was approached seriously. 

Ultimately, in consideration of the whole film, P.S I Love You is rather mediocre that as heartfelt as it tries to be, I just wasn't able to connect with the characters and nor feel for them. The Fisher King and Living Out Loud got by, thanks partly to Robin Williams, mostly Mercedes Reuhl and to an extent Jeff Bridges with the latter by Holly Hunter, Danny DeVito and Queen Latifah in Living Out Loud to help elevate the film further. Yet with this movie, there are really no standout performances; clearly, there is just not one actor who was able to deliver that killer turn or performance that wholeheartedly moved me on an emotional level and made me go: 'that makes me love this film just as much'

That was just not the case with P.S I Love You

Final Verdict

In its consideration of human relationships and love in the aftermath of death, Richard LaGravanese's lacklustre approach is also so hollow and misguided, it veritably flies in the face of what it should amount to and unfortunately, this kills all the momentum P.S I Love You had. Its underwhelming execution just flat out offers little in the way of being a truly satisfying and meaningful drama of what it means to live a life, after years of personal loss and tragedy. 

P.S? more like B.S I (don't) Love You.


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