P.S. I Love You (Warner Brothers, PG-13)

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film_psilove_sm.jpgIf P.S. I Love You looks like one of those saccharine, sappy, frilly films...well, it is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

film_psilove.jpg

Gerry Kennedy (Gerard Butler) is the most perfect man ever. He's handsome, funny, kind and even when he's dying of cancer, he thinks of how he can help his wife Holly (Hilary Swank) move on once he's gone.

Just when Holly is ready to pull the covers over her head and give up after Gerry's death, she begins receiving notes from him. See, Gerry gets Holly. He knows she's going to need a little pushing to clean herself up, leave the apartment they shared for ten years and get out into the world again.

Gerry, in his my-life-is-ending wisdom, does more than leave sweet love notes for his young widow. Gerry gives Holly a series of directives meant to help her keep going.

If P.S. I Love You looks like one of those saccharine, sappy, frilly films...well, it is. And the filmmakers ain't hiding it, either. They've used many of the traditional Girl Movie trappings: a gaggle of female friends and family for our leading lady, an overprotective mom, a couple of manly suitors to lift Holly out of her funk and, of course, a scene where the heroine gets so low she can't help but sing along to one of her favorite heartfelt songs.

For all its chick flick conventions, I have to admit that P.S. I Love You managed enjoyableness in spite of itself. It's not the kind of film where you become deeply invested in the characters, because it's pretty obvious from the beginning that everything will end up fine. But, it's kind of fun watching them get their happy endings, and for a movie like this, that's really the most you can hope for.

The performances are mostly standard issue. Gina Gershon and Lisa Kudrow take good care of their "married best friend" and "whoring best friend" roles, respectively, though Kudrow comes off mostly as a slightly smarter Phoebe from Friends. Kathy Bates is convincingly no-nonsense as Holly's bullshit-free mom and Harry Connick Jr. is solid as Holly's damaged buddy.

Swank is satisfyingly sad, daffy and confused as Holly. Like any good love story lead, she suffers her loneliness well. She dresses in her dead hubby's clothes to binge on chips while watching classic films, carries his ashes around whenever she leaves the apartment and gets comedically drunk. It would be interesting, though, to see Swank in a really good indie comedy where she could bring a touch of her dark, dramatic talents to bear in something less likely to try to please everyone.

After years of watching Butler as brooding mystery men (like Leonidas in 300 and The Stranger in Dear Frankie), it was a nice change of pace to see him as wide-eyed, goofy everyman Gerry. He may not be a full-fledged movie star yet, but for a guy with as much charm as Butler, it's a definite possibility that that will happen one day. | Adrienne Jones

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