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P.S. I Love You (2007)
Warner Home Video
DVD Released: 5/6/2008
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 4/27/2008
When I write reviews, I try to avoid using all but the most broad genre labels. For example, if a movie contains a monster, than "horror" will probably be mentioned in the review, and if I laughed throughout the film, then I'll no doubt call it a "comedy". However, if one gets too specific with genres, a movie can be stereotyped, and conversely, an inaccurate description can give viewers the wrong idea about a movie. Take P.S. I Love You for example. Most would likely label the film as a romantic-comedy. But, some of the film plays as a drama. And, for me, a great deal of the movie came off as pure fantasy. In fact, maybe we should create a new genre entitled "unrealistic" for this wayward film.
As P.S. I Love You opens, we meet Jerry (Gerard Butler) and Holly (Hilary Swank), a married couple who live in New York City. They are in the middle of a great argument, which spans money, careers, and children. We witness this knock-down, drag-out fight, and then she them make up. It's clear that these two have a very passionate relationship. In the next scene, we learn that Jerry has died -- struck down in the prime of life by a brain tumor. (As far as I could tell, we never learn how much time elapsed between the first scene and the second.) As one would imagine, Holly is devastated by this event, and despite the support of her mother, Patricia (Kathy Bates), and other friends and family -- Denise (Lisa Kudrow), Sharon (Gina Gershon), John (James Marsters) and Ciara (Nellie McKay) -- Holly has a very hard time getting out of her depression. She simply sits in her apartment all by herself, thinking of Gerry. Then, on her birthday, she receives a package with a tape recording. It's a message from Jerry stating that he knows that she's sad, but that he has a plan to help her get on with life. Holly begins to get a series of letters and packages which Jerry had arranged prior to his death. They contain items and instructions on what she should do to get back on her feet. These tasks and adventures not only help Holly embrace her memories of Jerry, but they also help to remind her how important love and companionship can be.
P.S. I Love You is based on a novel by Cecelia Ahern, which I have not read, but I can certainly see how the story would work as a book. The narrative has a whimsy which one could picture in the pages of a novel. However, as a movie, P.S. I Love You strikes many hollow chords. The story meanders all over the emotional map, and after the first act, nothing in the movie feels the least bit realistic.
I knew going into the film that Jerry dies (Interesting note: This fact isn't mentioned anywhere on the DVD box.), but I didn't realize that it would happen so suddenly and so soon. The first few scenes following the funeral are genuinely touching as we see Holly as a woman who simply has no idea how to live without her husband. Swank seems to be able to cry on-cue and these moments have a genuine feel to them. However, after that, the movie can't seem to make up its mind as to what the tone is going to be. A few scenes are funny (due mostly to the talents of Lisa Kudrow), and some are, for lack of a better word, "happy". However, the movie, through flashbacks, wants to remind us of how powerful the connection between Holly and Jerry was. But, instead of making the film feel more romantic, these scenes simply remind us that Jerry is dead, and it brings the mood down again. This may make the film sound like an emotional roller coaster, but it's more like dealing with a bipolar patient.
And maybe I'm too cynical, but once Holly got the first letter from Jerry, P.S. I Love You lost me for two reasons. First of all, even after we learn a bit (and only a bit) about how Jerry was able to arrange all of his post-mortem deliveries, it all feels like a fantasy. Yes, he loved Holly and knew her very well, but the way in which the letters are able to predict her moods is laughable at times. (However, the notes which address her career never come to fruition, and this feels like an error on the part of the writers). Then, we have Holly's financial situation. In that opening scene, it is implied that Jerry and Holly are broke. However, following Jerry's death, Holly is able to be unemployed, and it turns out that Jerry has arranged a very expensive trip for her. How did this happen? Did his business take off? Did he have insurance? We never know. I can hear some of you saying, "It's only a movie, get over it.", but details can be very important. The fact that Holly can do nothing and continue to have nicer-and-nicer clothes was very distracting. And, I'm not even going to mention the eye-rolling induced by Holly's career path at the end.
While I may be a manly-man, I'm not immune to the powers of a good romantic-comedy. (See the recent27 Dresses.) However, P.S. I Love You leaves the world of romantic-comedy behind and becomes a fantasy which would even confound lovers of Harlequin romances. The movie starts on an emotional note and then becomes the sort of flight of imagination which only the most lovesick viewers will find appealing. By the time that the movie said, P.S. I Love You, I had already moved on to another film.
P.S. I Love You sends a message from beyond the grave courtesy of Warner Home Video. The DVD contains both the full-frame and widescreen versions of the film. For the purposes of this review, only the widescreen version was viewed. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for widescreen TVs. The image is fairly sharp and clear, showing only a miniscule amount of grain in some shots. The picture shows no defects from the source material. The colors are fine, especially some certain scenes in a foreign country where the background is filled with green fields and purple flowers. The image is never overly dark. Some scenes lack in detail, especially with medium shots of characters. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are OK, but we get them only during crowd or street scenes. Likewise, the surround speakers only come to life during the scenes where there is music and large crowds -- however, there are several of these moments.
The P.S. I Love You DVD contains only a few extras. "A Conversation with Author Cecelia Ahern" (8 minutes) begins as an interview with Ahern, as she discusses the creation and publication of the novel. It then turns into a sort-of making-of, as the filmmakers talk about the transformation of the book into a movie. We learn a bit about what was changed from the novel. The DVD contains 5 ADDITIONAL SCENES which run about 13 minutes. Each of these actually gives us information which wasn't in the movie (a rarity), but only the one which shows Jerry when he was sick is interesting. We get the MUSIC VIDEO for the song "Same Mistake" by James Blunt. The last extra is "The Name of the Game is Snaps" (5 minutes), which isn't about insulting one's mother, but instead it's an odd black-and-white faux infomercial which explains how the game "Snaps" is played.
Review Copyright 2008 by Mike Long