P.S I Love You

July 14, 2011
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P.S Buy the book instead
When they say ‘loosely based’, they aren’t kidding
Having read the book and heard the hype (best rom-com of the year 2007), I journeyed to the cinema with great expectations. I left feeling disappointed, underwhelmed and utterly frustrated.
‘P.S I Love You’ follows the journey of Holly (Hilary Swank ‘Boys Don’t Cry), a thirty year old American in the year after her husband, Gerry’s death. As a way of saying goodbye, Gerry (Gerard Butler, ‘300’) organises letters to be sent to Holly from beyond the grave, often containing menial tasks such as buying a lamp all the way to falling in love again.
Though I have no objections to making minor changes to a book so that it is more applicable to the big screen, ‘P.S I Love You’ ’s main downfall was its immense divergence from the original plot – albeit, Cecilia Ahearn’s novel isn’t a literary masterpiece, its concept was compelling rather unlike its cinematic adaptation. In order for this film to be a mainstream, award-baiting film, Richard Lagravenese (director of ‘Voyage of the Dawn Treader’) cut out fundamental chunks, detracting from its quirky charm; primarily its Irish location.
After tolerating what seems like hours of dull American apartments and streets, the audience are hypnotised by picturesque aerial shots which encapsulate the heart of the vivid Irish countryside. Poor Terry Stacey (cinematographer ‘Dear John’) doesn’t have many opportunities to showcase his talent in ‘P.S I Love You’, so it’s no wonder they’re the best shots in the entire film. In fact it’s perplexing as to why anyone would Americanize the book after seeing such great cinematographic potential.
Wasted opportunities were abundant in casting and scripting too – undoubtedly, Hilary Swank is a brilliant actress her twenty six awards and nominations for ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ can vouch for that. However, seeing as she only managed to get an award for ‘Irish Best International Actress’ there is a blindingly obvious difference. Perhaps it was the subject matter or incompetent script – either was the casting was a little off, even for Butler. His change from weapon-wielding Spartacan to singing Irish limo-driver proved a bit too much even for him. Nevertheless, if you can forgive his singing and accent slips, his performance certainly had more charm than Swank’s – Holly’s flashback to their first meeting was the closest he managed to Ahearn characteristic intention.
It must be said however, that the star of the show, no matter how small a role was Lisa Kudrow as Denise. The cinema’s atmosphere lightened at her appearance as the audience waited for another Phoebe-esque line. It was a shame that she couldn’t have had more screen time than Holly’s vexatious sister, Ciara (Nellie McKay) who was in a fixed state of vacant happiness even at Gerry’s funeral. Nonetheless, it wasn’t exactly a realistic funeral when the vicar began to sing along to ‘The Fairytale of New York’.
Another song by ‘The Pogues’ which featured heavily throughout was ‘Love You ‘Til The End’. Thankfully, this was a rare effective decision which at times was more effectual than the acting itself. Likewise, the flashbacks and her hallucinations were as important, offering something that the book could not. However, these moments were rare and seldom used to their full potential.
If a film for the sentimentally challenged is what you’re looking for then ‘P.S I Love You’ is the one. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a half-decent adaptation then, though many references are made to ‘Great Expectations’, it will fail yours.

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