Swank is slumming in "P.S. I Love You"
"P.S. I Love You," is a long and too-often soggy tale of a young widow who learns that when you love someone, it's hard to move on without him.
Seattle Times movie critic
Movie review"P.S. I Love You," with Hilary Swank, Gerard Butler, Lisa Kudrow, Harry Connick Jr., Gina Gershon, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kathy Bates. Directed by Richard LaGravenese, from a screenplay by LaGravenese and Steven Rogers, based on the novel by Cecelia Ahern. 126 minutes. Rated PG-13 for sexual references and brief nudity. Several theaters.
Hilary Swank's career thus far has been a fascinating blend of skyrocketing achievement and talent (two Oscars by the age of 30, for her dramatic, beautiful work in "Boys Don't Cry" and "Million Dollar Baby") mixed with thudding flops ("The Affair of the Necklace," "The Core," "The Reaping") in which she just looks uncomfortable. By these standards, the romantic comedy/drama "P.S. I Love You" fits somewhere in the middle; not a disaster, but a misuse of her talents. The film, based on the novel by Irish writer Cecelia Ahern and directed by Richard LaGravenese, is a long and too-often soggy tale of a young widow who learns that when you love someone, it's hard to move on without him. (If this strikes you as a fairly obvious truth, you just might be checking your watch during this movie.)
No one does youthful earnestness quite like Swank (check out her underrated work in the Al Pacino film "Insomnia"), and this film gives her a few opportunities to show off that quality in flashbacks. As 19-year-old Holly, who falls in love with an Irishman named Gerry (Gerard Butler) while traveling overseas, she's charmingly gawky and eager, her wide smile signaling both rakishness and a touching sense of wonder. But for most of the movie, she's a 30-year-old widow — Gerry dies of a brain tumor, offscreen, just after the opening credits — trying to figure out what to do with the rest of her life. Gerry complicates things posthumously by leaving a number of letters of encouragement behind, to be delivered to her at strategic intervals and always ending, "P.S. I love you."
This is all pretty sweet, and surely it would take a heart as dark as peat to resist the charms of the devilishly handsome Butler (who justifies his second billing by turning up frequently in dream sequences and flashbacks). But Holly is written very blandly, and Swank dutifully sobs and whimpers and bravely grins without ever quite connecting with the role. She's flanked by two equally bland best pals — flirty singleton Denise (Lisa Kudrow) and motherly, grounded Sharon (Gina Gershon) — who exist only as plot contrivances. Other characters are ushered on and off, somewhat awkwardly: Holly's mom, Patricia (Kathy Bates), who has her own relationship demons to face; her oddball sister, Ciara (singer Nellie McKay), who appears to be a few potatoes short of an Irish stew; and bartender Daniel (Harry Connick Jr.), who works in the pub owned by Patricia and has an awkward crush on Holly.
All of this is drawn out for far longer than it needs to be, and (except for a pleasantly unexpected little twist at the end) it all resolves itself precisely as you might expect. But there are plenty of pretty things to look at — including a pleasant tour of Ireland's green fields and farmhouses, Holly's fabulous apartment and Butler — and the heroine's ultimate career choice turns out to be a perfect chick-flick/"Sex and the City" fantasy. The talented Swank is slumming a bit here, but she could — and has — done worse.
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or email@example.com
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When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.