December 31, 2007

Movie Review: P.S. I Love You

P.S. I Love You shouldn't be a good movie. The plot is ludicrous, the characters are borderline unlikable, and, well, let's just stick with it shouldn't be a good movie. Despite this, I found myself enjoying it. Somehow I found myself identifying with the characters. It is not that I have ever been in anything even close to what these characters go through, nor do I wish this type of tragedy upon anybody.

The movie sidesteps reality and resides in an alternate reality running parallell to our own. This is a world where romance extends beyond the barrier of death. P.S. I Love You is a story of dealing with loss and working through grief. Yes, it is hopelessly sentimental and an unapologetic tearjerker, but it struck a chord inside me and won me over despite it all.

Holly (Hillary Swank) and Gerry (Gerard Butler) are a young married couple of modest means. They are deeply in love, but like all married couples they bicker and argue with quite ferocious intensity, but through it all they have their love. Their deep love brought them together in fairy tale fashion, flaming an ember of passion into what was supposed to be a lifetime of love. Tragedy strikes and Gerry's life is taken by a brain tumor leaving Holly alone for the first time since she was a teenager. This is not the way life is supposed to go, people are not just supposed to die like that, people are not meant to be left alone like that.

Holly has no idea how she is supposed to go with her life. For the prior decade she had been with the love of her life, whenever she needed him, he was there for her. Sure, they fought and they argued, but eventually they would come back together. Not now, now she had no one to argue with, no one to fight with, no one to make up with. Her love was not there to love her unconditionally, no matter how upset she may get.

It is this great loss that Holly suffers and her resultant grief that struck home for me. My grandmother lost my grandfather during the Fall of 2006 following the discovery of advanced cancer. He died within a matter of months. Their relationship was built of deep, long-lasting love and faith. For 58 years they lived for each other and their children and grandchildren. For 58 years she always had him at her side, then suddenly he was gone. He was taken from her far too soon and far too quickly. She was left with a large hole and no way to fill it.

Watching P.S. I Love You and seeing the effects of loss and grief on Holly brought to mind the loss suffered by my grandmother, and my entire family. It is not easy dealing with grief. Losing a loved one is not any easy thing to go through, even harder to overcome. In some cases it is impossible to move past it, to get on with living. This movie injects romance from beyond the grave, as morbid as that sounds, and uses it as a tool to use in getting over the loss and regaining the ability to live life with the potential to love again.

You see, when Gerry found out that he was sick and had little time to live, he went about putting a plan into motion to help Holly and her ability to deal with her grief as well as remind her of just how much he loved her without trying to keep her tied to someone who is dead. He wrote letters to his wife, letters that would be delivered over the course of a year, each containing a task for her to do, sometimes by herself, or with the help of her friends Denise (Lisa Kudrow) and Sharon (Gina Gershon). Each letter concluded with th reminder that is the title: "P.S. I love you." Each of these letters was designed to get her out of the house, to get over the loss and get on with her life.

I have to believe that the emotional chord struck in me is the reason that I liked it as much as I did. If it hadn't been for that I suspect that the film would have fallen flat, sinking beneath the wait of over the top sentimentality and the manipulative way that it plays with emotions. It is funny how I connected with what it seeks to do while simultaneously recognizing its significant shortcomings as a complete film.

What should you take with you into the film? Well, if you have lost someone expect to find it a touching, if unreal, examination of loss and a way to deal with grief. If you go in expecting a good movie and do not have that personal connection to make, be prepared to find it a little too manipulative and also a little bit too long. At times the movie seems to drag on with no end in site. It definitely could have done with a little trimming.

Bottomline. The performances are decent, but it is definitely going to be a love it or hate it reaction. The direction is rather pedestrian and the result is rather long winded. I made an emotional connection to the story that must be present in order to get anything out of it, otherwise you will likely be checking your watch and wishing you went to Enchanted.

Mildly Recommended.


Post a Comment