Based on the bestselling book by Ceceila Ahern, P.S. I Love You tells the tale of Holly Kennedy (Hilary Swank) who is aided in recovering from her husband’s (Gerard ‘this is Sparta’ Butler) death by a series of letters, carefully orchestrated, by him, to arrive at key moments in her recovery process. What follows for Holly is a trip to his native Ireland with her friends (Lisa Kudrow and Gina Gershon) and a rough reconciliation with her mother (Kathy Bates).
The first problem (and once again reader, I warn you, this will not be the last) with P.S. I Love You is that its initial premise would quite possibly have been better suited to staying in literary format rather than attempting the transformation to screen. It is, after all, based on letters. In its celluloid appearance Director/Screenwriter Richard LaGravenese doesn’t manage to imbue it with any of the sentimentality, sweetness or absent, longing, romance which was so appreciated in the book. Instead, the appearances of Gerard Butler’s Gerry in Holly’s imagination appear more akin to something in a horror movie rather than a romantic comedy while the eagerness book readers felt at the arrival of each new letter on the page is completely lost when all we have is alternate narration from Holly or Gerry.
As the movie matures it becomes increasing apparent that its characters aren’t and herein lies the absolute killer punch to any chance P.S. I Love You had of being a decent romantic comedy; not a single one of the characters are likeable on any level. While Holly may retain our initial sympathies her grieving process just doesn’t convince, wavering madly between recovery, extreme depression and excessive anger, all of this not helped by the fact that she didn’t actually appear to treat Gerry very nicely when he was alive. In turn to this she is so self-centred that even more than a third of the way in to the film she can’t feel any happiness for the joy her two friends soon find. Having said that, this is one crime that can actually be forgiven for the simple fact that Kudrow and Gershon play two absolutely despicable ‘friends’, one of whom seems completely emotionally bankrupt yet majestically finds the man of her dreams, while the other appears completely and utterly helpless in every situation where the screenwriter does actually have the good grace to give her a line.
All this, of course, could be saved if the two male leads (Butler and Jeffrey Dean Morgan) had an ounce of charisma between them. Sadly they are both victims of horrific casting despite giving the roles their best efforts. Butler is Scottish which someone in Hollywoodland obviously thought made him a shoe-in for Irish accented Gerry. The resultant mish-mash sounds like his best impression of a cross-Gaelic fairy godmother whos been lost in the wilds of New York for a few years. Morgan, meanwhile similarly fails to convince as Irish Billy which again can be forgiven seeing as he’s from
Seattle! A mention should also be maintained here for Swank and Bates who, so the story goes, are of Irish heritage, although neither attempts an accent, nor apparently, knows anything about Ireland, despite the meaningless back story of Holly which reveals she’s visited the Emerald Isle before.
The film just avoids the dreaded one star by virtue of actually occasionally fulfilling its promise on the comedy side. When Holly isn’t moping and the other two aren’t being a) bitchy or b) silent there is some witty, quick-paced scripting which does raise a smile or two. However, a few laughs does not a good rom-com make, especially when there are no characters to speak of and the ones that are here are spouting what can only be described as cross-cultural nonsense on a grandiose scale.