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May 15, 2008
Review - " P.S. I Love You " (on DVD) - By Roland Hansen
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P.S. I Love You - movie poster
P.S. I Love You
Directed by Richard LaGravenese
Screenplay by Richard LaGravenese and Steven Rogers
Starring: Hilary Swank, Gerard Butler, Lisa Kudrow, Kathy Bates and Harry
Connick Jr

Any fan of the movie "300" will register a degree of shock at the sight of the
great Spartan King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) donning the cap of a funny and
impetuous Irishman in "P.S. I Love You." Nonetheless, this character transition
is just as equally, and believably, pulled off by “Million Dollar Baby’s" Maggie
Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank), as a distraught widow. It is a testament to the acting
abilities of Butler and Swank to have so successfully executed the roles of
Gerry and Holly Kennedy. Indeed, it is the reason why "P.S. I Love You" really
hits the mark.

The film opens with a simple scene of domestic disharmony. Holly (Hilary
Swank) and Gerry (Gerard Butler) are arguing about an offhand comment he
made to her mother earlier in the evening. The argument, which has its roots
in the kind of everyday quarrels that occur between spouses, soon goes over-
the-top. The scene ends with a touchy-feely moment, the opening credits
arrive, and we return to the story several months later, at Gerry's funeral. He
died of brain cancer but, before departing, he wrote a series of letters that he
intends to be delivered to his wife at key moments during her first year of
widowhood. In the weeks and months that follow, letters from Gerry are delivered in surprising ways, each sending her on a
new adventure and each signing off in the same way: P.S. I Love You. Among these adventures, all of which involve a
deeply meaningful event or moment the couple shared, Holly overcomes her fear of karaoke, finds her true passion in life
and embarks on a trip to Gerry’s homeland of Ireland. Holly's mother, Elizabeth (Kathy Bates), thinks this is a bad idea
since it will provide Holly with the illusion that Gerry is still alive. Indeed, her life is as much lived in the past (via flashbacks)
and in a fantasy world (where Gerry is still around) as in the present, real one. She believes that she can still feel Gerry’s

In addition to Butler and Swank, the movie receives strong performances from a talented supporting cast: Lisa Kudrow,
Gina Gershon, Harry Connick Jr., Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Academy Award winner Kathy Bates. Bates’ role, as Holly’s
mother, was especially well-performed, capturing the palpable tension exposed by the mother-daughter relationship, as well
as the closeness that eventually follows. Gerard Butler, showing a different side to those who know him only from “300”,
nails the impish Gerry perfectly. Hilary Swank exudes love, loss and the pain of a person desperately trying to cope and
achieve something more, something meaningful, in life. The always-smiling, heavily accented Morgan adds a bit of
beefcake to Holly’s life, while Kudrow adds some much-needed comic relief.

Though the plot shares many features of a typical love story, the romantic chance encounter that plays out as ‘love at first
sight’, the fights full of passion and disagreement and the forgiving, loving make-ups, the concept of having Gerry
communicate to Holly through posthumous letters is anything but typical. His letters reflect the care and compassion that
Gerry had for Holly, and even though he knew he would soon have to leave her, he was already making preparations to
help her cope with his passing. It was his love of life, his passion for life’s beauty that he wanted to leave with Holly. Though
his role is necessarily limited, Butler's chemistry with Swank ignites their few, pivotal scenes and fuels the movie.
Hilary Swank, Gerard Butler from P.S. I Love You
Holly's resurgence falters and flows; she gets angry with
friends for moving on, she makes mistakes and she falls
apart, running to mommy in the picture's most emotional
scene, with the always powerful Miss Bates cashing in
on earlier moments, and Holly, letting go of what's no
longer alive, emerges with joy, not pain, as her goal.

Grief is a long, painful process. "P.S. I Love You" has
obvious appeal to the more emotional viewer. Those
who have experienced the deep aching anguish of
losing someone they deeply love will get the movie and
Hilary Swank’s character. The people who have been
fortunate to live relatively happy lives most likely will not.
Ultimately, “P.S. I Love You” wants us to feel hopeful that
by the end Holly will start anew with her life. That it flirts
with formula does not hinder its ability to evince tears
and laughter. Melodramatic, realistic and romantic, “P.S.
I Love You” appropriately saves the best for last.