The kind of film that repels males like some sort of dog whistle, "P.S. I Love You" is the definition a weepie. The film opens with a young couple, Holly (Hilary Swank) and Gerry (Gerard Butler) walking through the streets of what appears to be New York City and into their apartment building (which looks oddly like the same apartment building Piper Perabo's character was supposed to be living in in "Coyote Ugly"), arguing about something that he said.
The argument starts off about something he said and evolves into a heated discussion about just about everything else including whether or not they want to start a family. Oh, but they yell it out and then make up. If it wasn't for the fact that Swank and Butler have good chemistry, this would feel like an argument in a TV drama on Lifetime at 2AM. As is, it's still not exactly the best way to start the film.
However, Butler isn't exactly in the picture very long, as tragedy strikes and Gerry passes away from brain cancer. Ten minutes into the picture is Gerry's funeral (although he does reappear at times in flashbacks), where Holly is comforted by her mom Elizabeth (Kathy Bates) and pals Sharon (Gina Gershon) and Denise (Lisa Kudrow). While Holly feels alone and aimless, one day a letter comes in the mail - from Gerry.
He starts by telling her to get out and enjoy herself with her friends, then follows up by directing her on trips and other activities that she'd never otherwise do (karaoke, which leads to the surprise that Hilary Swank doesn't have a bad singing voice. She's not going to have an album anytime soon, but...not bad.) Eventually, he has her (via letter) start to get rid of some of his things. She also strikes up a bit of a romance with Daniel (Harry Connick Jr.) and also finds herself having feelings for William (Jeffrey Dean Morgan).
The production has to be carried by Swank (who needs to play Jennifer Garner's sister in a movie) and thankfully, the actress has enough charm and appeal to make this a winning, engaging performance. That's a tall order, given that the film's screenplay is about as sappy as a cheap romance novel. I haven't read the novel this film's based upon, but I hope the dialogue is better than the kind of clunky, cliche dialogue that is found throughout much of the film adaption. There's just not enough story here to justify 127 minutes and the result is a movie that feels draggy in the second half.
Speaking of cliches, Kudrow and Gershon (both terrific actresses) get stuck with roles that are possibly about the most stereotypical "sidekick" roles (see all three girls take a wacky fishing trip! It's painfully unfunny! Whee!) I've seen in a film like this in ages. Kathy Bates doesn't get much to do as Holly's mom and Butler turns in a fine supporting effort as Gerry. The worst of the bunch is Connick, Jr. - an actor who I've found decent in other films, but is terrible here as the awkward (and really rather irritating) Daniel. Swank and Connick really have no chemistry at all in their scenes.
Overall, "P.S." has a very good cast, but while they manage to make lackluster material watchable, the movie reaches a point where it starts to feel like it's not going anywhere in particular quickly enough. I've started to appreciate Hilary Swank more (see "The Reaping", where Swank managed a fantastic performance, despite working with the most ridiculous script in ages), but one hopes that she can start becoming a little more choosy. "P.S." has its moments, but they're thanks to her efforts - not the script.
VIDEO: "P.S. I Love You" is presented by Warner Brothers in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and 1.33:1 full-frame, with each edition getting their own side of a dual-sided disc. Image quality isn't anything to write home about (neither is the film's rather generic visual style, but that's neither here-nor-there), but it's mostly at least satisfactory. The anamorphic widescreen presentation looked on the soft side throughout, but I'm guessing the gauzy look may have been intentional. Of greater concern is some mild edge enhancement and the occasional instances of pixelation. Colors seemed oddly a little on the flat side to me, but not so much to think that the look was what the filmmakers were going for. This certainly wasn't a terrible presentation, but it was extremely average - especially for a recent theatrical release.
SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is about as tame as one would expect, given the material. Surrounds really have absolutely nothing to do here, as the dialogue-driven film's audio is spread across the front speakers. Audio quality is fine, with crisp dialogue and score.
EXTRAS: " Conversation with Author Cecilia Ahern" and "The Name of the Game is Snaps" featurettes, James Blunt music video and deleted scenes. Altogether not much, and really nothing here worth watching.
Final Thoughts: "P.S." coasts for a while on Swank's appeal, but the weak screenplay just doesn't give the cast enough to go on and the film starts to wear out what welcome it had once the second half rolls around. The DVD offers average video quality, decent audio and an underwhelming set of minor supplements. Some may want to give some consideration to this as a date night rental, but other than for that I'd skip it.
The Film C