How familiar is this scenario? Young couple struggling to get by in a smallish (but nicely arranged) Manhattan apartment squabble about kids and money. Gerry (Gerard Butler) would like a child; Holly (Hilary Swank) thinks the place is too small. He wants to start his own business; she’s on her fifth or sixth job that she hates. They fight; he leaves, he comes back; they make up. Seems to be regular pattern. Whether the added-value striptease is or isn’t, is anyone’s guess. Refreshingly, this time it’s the guy who does the teasing’! Alas, Gerard Butler no longer packs the heart-stopping muscles of “300”’s King Leonides but he still looks good and he does have an adorable Irish accent. Holly can’t resist and neither can we. Rest easy, Chippendales, there’s nothing to fear from Gerard Butler’s dancing! This is one of the funniest scenes in a movie with a very sober topic: love and the process of grieving.
In the next scene, Gerry is a framed photo and a pot of ashes, being waked at his mother-in-law’s Irish pub. Dead of a brain tumor at age 35. Afterwards, Holly spends the next few weeks in the apartment: watching old Bette Davis movies, skipping showers and ignoring calls from family and friends. But either someone had a key or she didn’t lock the door because family and friends do troop in on her 30th birthday with balloons and gifts. It’s also then the first letter – along with a birthday cake – arrives from her deceased husband, urging her to have a slice then go out and celebrate with her friends. Oh and by the way, more messages will be coming at different intervals, not always in the way she might expect. Gerry, it seems, was not only charming and hard-working but an incredible planner. (He must have had a leprechaun’s pot of gold hidden someplace too, for a limo driver to send three people to Ireland.)Like Holly, we find ourselves anticipating his next message, which always ends with the postscript that’s this movie’s title.
And what’s a romance movie without some romantic possibilities? In “P.S. I Love You”, there are two “live” possibilities. One is obnoxious bartender Daniel (Harry Connick, Jr.,) who works at Holly’s mom’s pub. The second is another charming Irishman, William (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), singer that Holly and friends Denise (Lisa Kudrow) and Sharon (Gina Gershon) met in an Irish pub. Personally, I kept hoping throughout the film that Holly didn’t end up with Daniel (anyone remember Connick’s turn as a serial killer in 1996’s “Copycat”?), who seemed to need medication or a lobotomy in the worst way.
Yes, the movie is contrived and maybe a bit too stickily sentimental in spots. You may cringe at the Kudrow character who’s so desperate for a man, she clumsily tries to pick up unsuspecting males at Gerry’s wake. There’s also the scene where Holly and friends ditzily strand themselves in the middle of the lake by dropping their paddles. William the pub singer is one of the rescuers. In a blink-and-miss-it scene, he also flashes his bare behind to a befuddled Holly. Only in the movies do people not pull their blinds or close their doors when they’re naked…
Part of the movie was filmed in and around County Dublin, showing off the beautiful green countryside to advantage. Also a bonus is the soundtrack of Irish music, including songs sung by Gerard Butler (Gerry apparently sung in a pub band too!). Butler and Swank have a nice chemistry together. And watch for the in-jokes regarding “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”. In one scene, Holly muses about job choices, including that of vampire slayer (Hilary Swank fans will know that she had a small part in the original “Buffy” movie that starred Kristy Swanson). And a prominent actor from the television show plays a part in “P.S., I Love You” too!
To some viewers, it may be a bit creepy watching how Gerry directs his wife’s life from the grave. However, in the course of this, we watch Holly slowly recover from her grief and start to move on with her life to explore other possibilities. And isn’t this something we would all want for our loved ones to after we’re gone?