Butler a Man of Letters
"P.S. I Love You" is a frustrating movie which has wonderful tender scenes which can make you weep and smile but then delivers scenes which make you groan in their cheesiness. But most frustrating is that the mixture of drama, romance and comedy is such an uneven ride that from one moment to the next you don't know whether you should be laughing or crying. All of this makes me believe that this silver screen adaptation of Cecelia Ahern's novel fails to do it justice.
After the death of her husband Gerry (Gerard Butler - 300), Holly Kennedy (Hilary Swank - Freedom Writers) struggles to come to terms with life without her childhood sweetheart. That is until she receives a surprise letter from him which explains that in knowing he was about to die he had written her a series of letters which she will receive over the coming months to guide her through life without him, with each of the letters ending with "P.S. I Love You".
As stories go, I quite like the idea that in knowing he was going to die Gerry planned for a series of letters to be sent to his widow to guide her through life once he's gone. It sounds such a wonderful romantic gesture that this guy knew his wife so well that by doing this would help her to let go. But for some reason, and I put the blame on the uneven mix of comedy and emotion, the sentimental element of these letters lacks the impact that they deserve. Did I find myself feeling all gooey because of what was being said, sadly not often enough and although the tone of these letters change as Holly starts to let go it really feels like they were a seriously underplayed tool which could have made "P.S. I Love You" a much greater tear jerker of a movie.
But the storyline is not just about the letters and it's also about watching Holly start to live again. This is another area where "P.S. I Love You" really struggles as everything feels so throw away. Friendships and relationships feel unreal and quite shallow, probably because the movie never stops long enough to build up any of the characters. The worst example of this is that shortly into the movie we learn that Gerry has died but because his character was never really developed are empathy for him and his letters is not there. It's the same with most of the other characters and indeed with Holly as well as although she is the central character we never really get to know her and so are left on the outside watching rather than feeling what she does.
What really is the issue with "P.S. I Love You" is that as already mentioned it is a very uneven movie flicking between drama and comedy so abruptly you never know how you are meant to feel. But it's also the fact that everything the drama, comedy and even emotion all feels so predictable and honestly quite average. After watching the opening drama of Holly and Gerry arguing I would have bet a lot of money that at his wake the song they played would be The Pogues "Fairytale of New York" as it's all a bit to obvious. Sadly all the predictable nature continues through out the movie and often scenes are over done so they don't feel real. It all just feels slightly out of sorts never knowing whether it wants you to smile whilst reaching for the tissues or having you laughing out loud.
I wish I could say that when it came to the performances things improved but sadly they don't and every single character is predictably stereotypical. Gerard Butler who unfortunately delivers one of the thickest Irish accents as Gerry is probably the most stereotypical character in the movie. I like Butler but watching him play a laid back Irish larrikin who displays every single cliché characteristic you could possibly imagine just doesn't work. But then compared to Hilary Swank who for some reason seems to be imitating Julia Roberts through out the movie, Butler comes off quite lightly. What is annoying is I also like Swank who can light up a screen with her presence, but again the character of Holly is such a mixed up cliché that it is difficult to empathise with. What I will say is that in the few scenes together there is a slight chemistry between Butler and Swank which makes all the letters believable.
Unfortunately all the cliché characters extend to the various supporting characters with the likes of Lisa Kudrow, Gina Gershon, Kathy Bates, Harry Connick Jr. and Jeffrey Dean Morgan all playing poorly developed highly stereotypical characters. I really can't find a single character in the movie which didn't feel 2 dimensional and it's a shame as these supporting characters could have made for some great entertainment.
What this all boils down to is that undoubtedly the main storyline of the letters is a good idea and could have made "P.S. I Love You" a really great romantic movie. I just feel that the uneven handedness in the way Cecelia Ahern's novel has been adapted doesn't do it anywhere near the justice that it deserves. "P.S. I Love You" is worth a watch but don't expect it too cost you a box of tissues.