Just in case you were somehow fooled by the previews, let me start this review off with a resounding chick flick alert. If you don’t like movies with somewhat unbelievable premises justified by a dashing leading man, hilarious supporting characters, and tear-jerking moments that will make you cry harder than you did in Stepmom, than stay away from P.S. I Love You. For all of you saps out there, prepare for a film that’s so surprisingly endearing, you’ll start wondering why you can’t have a husband who will love you enough to die young and then send you letters posthumously.
Based on the best-selling novel by Cecilia Ahern, P.S. I Love You is an uplifting ballad about love and loss. The film opens with Holly Kennedy (Hilary Swank) and her goofy Irish husband Gerry (Gerard Butler) fighting over a seemingly innocuous comment Gerry made to Holly’s mother. Just when the couple realizes how much they need one another, the film cuts ahead several months to Gerry’s funeral, where Holly is absolutely devastated. Fortunately, during his battle with a brain tumor, Gerry composed a series of letters to be delivered to Holly after his death, each encouraging her to live her life, each ending with the phrase “P.S. I Love You.” As the letters pile up, Holly struggles with memories of her past as her two best friends Denise (Lisa Kudrow) and Sharon (Gina Gershon), and the shamelessly blunt bartender Daniel (Harry Connick Jr.), all struggle to get her to start anew.
P.S. I Love You is one of those painful films that makes you cry right off the bat, then lifts you up with some choice comedy (courtesy of Lisa Kudrow) only to slap you in the face with a heart-breaking flashback. But despite the extremely depressing subject matter, the film still emanates an aura of hope, which keeps it from sinking into Lifetime: Movie of the Week territory. Ultimately, the film serves to prove that annoying adage you hear after every break-up, “‘Tis better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.”
What’s most impressive about P.S. I Love You is that the actors managed to feel like real people, despite the script's gimmicky premise. Borrowing some delivery tactics from her days as Phoebe Buffet, Lisa Kudrow will have single women everywhere exploding in laughter as she searches for a man who is single, straight, employed and knows how to kiss. Meanwhile, Gina Gershon shines as the more grounded best friend and Kathy Bates gives her standard powerful performance as Holly’s frosty mother. The true standout of the film though is Gerard Butler, which is pretty impressive considering he dies within the first ten minutes. Not only is he a gorgeous man with an accent who sings (try to compete with that boys), but he also has this amazing chemistry on screen that makes you crave him more and more after every scene.
Even though the depressing plotline is right up her alley, Hilary Swank makes a real departure from her typical Oscar winners here, drawing from her 90210 days as the waitress who won Steve’s heart and then lost it to bad ratings. Swank does best in scenes where she’s responding to her cast mates, but has trouble embracing the leading romantic female role. Meanwhile, Harry Connick Jr. does well enough with his brutal honesty but somehow doesn’t manage to make Daniel seem endearing enough to forgive his quirks. The biggest casting misstep is with singer Nellie McKay as Holly’s younger sister Ciara. Though it’s only a bit part, McKay is just too offbeat for the generally down-to-earth tone of the film and is painful to watch.
P.S. I Love You isn’t going to break the chick-flick barrier but it packs a powerful two hours into a concept that on face value seems pretty cliché and corny. P.S. don’t forget to check out the phenomenal soundtrack (