P.S. I Love You
Directed by Richard LaGravenese. Starring Hilary Swank, Gerard Butler, Gina Gershon, Lisa Kudrow, Kathy Bates, Harry Connick Jr., Jeffrey Dean Morgan, James Marsters. (2007, PG-13, 126 min.)
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Dec. 21, 2007
LaGravenese is usually a terrific screenwriter (The Fisher King, The Ref, Unstrung Heroes), but this adaptation (with Steve Rogers) of Cecelia Ahern's novel is almost insufferably sufferable. It's a chick flick of the tallest order, with schmaltz galore and the sort of ongoing romantic hubris that practically screams, "This is codswallop, right?" Smart boyfriends, however, will grin and bear it. Swank, as grieving widow Holly, is all knees and elbows and cheekbones and denial. Swank has always been muscularly rawboned, but here she looks as if her character's recently deceased husband, Gerry (Butler, generically Irish, which here means soulful and musically inclined), has stolen not only her heart but her literal and metaphorical curvature. Post-wake, she's goes to ground in the former couple's NYC apartment, sympathizing with Bette Davis' tumorous Dark Victory while acting and keeping house, as her mother notes, like a mad Miss Havisham. This sudden dashing of expectations, great or otherwise, sends Holly into an emotional and mental tailspin of impressive nihilism. Until, that is, her 30th birthday, when she receives a letter from her dead spouse, who, crafty lad that he was, has thoughtfully seen fit to keep the love – and by extension, the healing – flowing from beyond the grave. Together with mother-in-law Bates (doing a canny impression of Shirley MacLaine), possible new love Connick Jr. (doing an uncanny impression of Michael Cera in Juno), and BFFs Gershon and Kudrow, Swank embarks on a teary journey of Lifetime proportions. Hope floats all over the place in P.S. I Love You, but it's Connick Jr.'s goofy, lovesick bartender who makes it all tolerable. Although it's never stated directly, he apparently suffers from Asperger's syndrome, which provides for both semisubtle comedy and obvious, clichéd advice. LaGravenese doesn't help matters with a selectively corny soundtrack – the Pogues, James Blunt, Paolo Nutini – but at least he doesn't stoop to Van Morrison.