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P.S. I Love You

P.S. I Hate You

The trailer for P.S. I Love You would lead you to believe the film is a sweet, charming (albeit somewhat saccharine) romantic comedy with a solid cast including Kathy Bates, Hilary Swank, Lisa Kudrow, and Harry Connick Jr. While the cast is unarguably solid, P.S. I Love You strays far from charming, and if you were looking for a romantic comedy just in time for the holiday season, prepare for serious disappointment.

There are few films Iíve encountered this year that had me turned off immediately. P.S. I Love You falls into that rare pantheon of films. Holly (Hilary Swank) returns home angrily with her Irish husband Gerry (Gerard Butler). The couple storms into their meager apartment and begins a ridiculous argument about semantics, planning, and God knows what else. The important thing here is that the argument is as inane and contrived as anything ever committed to celluloid. Equally hackneyed is the requisite reconciliation and makeup sex. Gerry tells Holly earnestly heís not going anywhere. Famous last words.

Conveniently, Gerry is felled by a brain tumor and Holly is left alone and distraught (unfortunate that both didnít die). You want to sympathize, but in the previous scene Holly came across as nothing short of a shameless nag in her fight with Gerry raising the question of why Gerry (or any man) would be attracted to her. At any rate, Holly tries to soldier on, but misses Gerry terribly.

Conveniently, (Yes, I have used this word twice now, but truly this word captures the essence of the film. Everything is "convenient".). Holly begins receiving letters from Gerry posthumously presumably to help her through the grieving process and move on with her life. Itís an interesting idea, but just about completely implausible. The majority of the film revolves around ridiculous little adventures Holly goes on upon receiving each letter.

One would hope that a cast including multiple Oscar winners (Hilary Swank and Kathy Bates) would enable P.S. I Love You to at least achieve mediocrity. However, Swankís performance as Holly is overwrought and melodramatic. I canít remember the last time I felt less sympathy for someone grieving over the loss of a loved one; she just isnít an appealing character.

Prior to Gerryís death, she is a veritable control freak consumed with structure and plans. After Gerryís death, she seems weak, impotent, confused, and narcissistic. Itís hard to believe this is the same woman who transfixed audiences with her performances in Boys Donít Cry and Million Dollar Baby.

Equally wasted is the talent of Kathy Bates who plays Hollyís disapproving mom, Patricia. Scornful and bitter for most of the film, Patricia isnít a particularly attractive character either. Fortunately, Patricia is not on screen all that much and sheís merely a supporting character, so Iíll go a little easier on Kathy Bates for her run of the mill performance in this role.

I wonít get into the performances by the other actors as they were equally disappointing with perhaps the exception of Harry Connick Jr. His turn as Daniel, a bartender who works for Patricia is at least interesting, if not odd and eccentric. I canít pin all the blame on the cast for this incredible failure to launch, the story is weak to begin with and the material these actors were given just didnít provide much to work with.

If you want a romantic comedy with some substance, solid performances, and characters that you can have some vain hope of connecting with, steer clear of P.S. I Love You and check out Juno.

Rating: 1 out of 5 stars