09 December 2008

P.S. I Love You

P.S. I Don’t Love You
By Kristin Battestella
I really need to stop watching romantic comedies at 3 a.m. My last gander was the 2007 chick flick P.S. I Love You, starring Oscar winner Hillary Swank and 300 hunk Gerard Butler. Why do I bother?
Holly (Swank) and Gerry (Butler) live in a small New York apartment and argue like normal couples, but they truly have a great life and love at heart. When Gerry dies from a brain tumor, Holly struggles with his death despite help from her family and friends. Shortly thereafter, on her 30th birthday, Holly begins to receive predated letters from Gerry. These treasures help her remember the good times, make new experiences, and find herself again.
She has had many an out there role, from The Next Karate Kid to Boys Don’t Cry, but I wonder what it was that drew Hillary Swank to this role. Holly is by no means a pretty part. For some reason the character dresses like an idiot, and there’s a lot of crying and why questions ala Nancy Kerrigan and the whole knee bashing thing. I can see the emotion in the grief and overcoming the death of a loved one, but for personal reasons alone, not from Swank’s trying. I don’t know what I’d do without my husband. Do I care if Holly gets over Gerry? Not really. She’s given plenty of opportunity to do so, and after chance after chance, not only did I not care, but I wanted to smack Holly to her senses. Why Hillary, why?
P.S. I Love You was hyped largely as the next big thing after Gerard Butler’s success in 300. I understand his not wanting to be typecast, and his work prior to 300 was quite diverse, from Dracula 2000 to The Phantom of the Opera. I just find this film of all the choices, to be so…weird. Some girls may be charmed by all the romance and such, yadda yadda, but otherwise, this is a very unflattering role. His singing is wrong here, and there isn’t an Irish actor out there to fill our Irish onscreen Gerry’s shoes? Not only is the whole ‘dead Gerry’ and Gerry Butler vibe a little creepy, but he disappears halfway through the film-before the last letter arrives. I don’t get it. Butler has one scene before the opening credits, then spends the rest of the film in flashbacks or as figments of Holly’s imagination. It’s as if the performance technically doesn’t exist. Star Trek fans complain if an entire episode is a dream or a big reset button. It’s not as if the ghost of Holly’s dead husband is really haunting her, that would be worthwhile I think, ala The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. It would have to be funny, not serious, Ghost cornered that. I just don’t see the appeal of a film that turned out to be a complete misstep for both leads. Why Gerry why?
P.S. I Love YouNot only have the two leads been unfortunately miscast, but the absolutely stunning supporting cast of P.S. I Love You has been completely wasted. Oscar winner Kathy Bates (Misery) receives her token obligatory weepy scenes as Holly’s mom Patricia, and Gina Gershon (Bound) and James Marsters (Spike, People! Spike!) disappear from the film with no explanation whatsoever. We get a tacked on reunion with Lisa Kudrow (Friends) and a cop out at Yankee Stadium with Harry Connick, Jr.(Copycat). I found myself more interested in these fine supporting players and their complex relationships, but their trials and troubles are dropped in favor of Holly’s obvious and typical story. The eclectic mix has the comedic and dramatic-and heck musical-talent needed, but it’s never used by writer Steven Rogers (Hope Floats) and director Richard LaGravenese (The Fisher King, Freedom Writers, and The Bridges of Madison County).
It’s not woeful leads and misused support, however, that undoes P.S. I Love You- it’s the whole dang story from author Cecelia Ahem. Maybe the movie took its liberties from the source novel, but I’m certainly not rushing down the street to Borders to get the book, that’s for damn sure. The bemoaning of Holly just goes on and on. As I said, grief is something everyone can relate to, but enough with the letters already. They are too obvious and convenient. The first message is on a tape recorder. Why aren’t all the others? In this day and age, Gerry couldn’t videotape himself and email it to Holly everyday? How is she really expected to get over her dead husband if new information and good memories of him are technically coming from him after death?

Gerry and Holly are so poor, but he can plan elaborate bar trips and vacays to Ireland? And all this while dying of a brain tumor over the course of one year? The soul searching of what grief can do to one person is undone by the unrealistic nature of the story’s plan. Never mind the horrid soundtrack and all that omigod chick stuff about turning thirty, marriage, divorce, babies, and looks. And after all this, how does Holly get on with her life? By designing shoes! Could you alienate the male audience more? I can’t believe guys wrote and directed this.

Fans of the cast will tune in for P.S. I Love You, but I don’t think it will be a Gerry dream for the ladies or a tour de force for Swank fans. The DVD supposedly has more scenes and interviews with Ahern-something I would normally find interesting, but I don’t think its worth the full price of the disc. Unless you are a big chick flick fan, please avoid. Fans of the individual cast are better off finding clips on youtube.


thebonebreaker said...

hahaha - Nice Review Kristin! :-)

I didn't dislike the film as much as you did - It wasn't all that bad, in my opinion.

Kristin Battestella said...

Hey Bone. I don't see guy appeal in this movie at all! Go fig


thebonebreaker said...

I was watching it with my wife, and didn't find myself reading a book, so that's got to count for something! :-)