P.S. I LOVE YOU directed by Richard LaGravenese, written by LaGravenese and Steven Rogers from the novel by Cecelia Ahern, with Hilary Swank, Gerard Butler, Lisa Kudrow, Gina Gershon, Harry Connick Jr. and Kathy Bates. A Warner release. 126 minutes. Rating: N
Hilary Swank won two Academy Awards before she turned 31, and now all we expect is quality work for the rest of her life. But scripts for suffering, sinewy women aren’t so common, which explains P.S. I Love You.
Explains but can never excuse.
Swank plays Holly, a tightly wound New Yorker who loses her roguish husband, Gerry (Gerard Butler), to brain cancer. Since this is cheap fantasy, the real pain of his illness and death happens offscreen, but a good 20 minutes is spent on Holly’s sitcom-grade grieving. (She watches old movies and stops combing her hair.)
As if the far superior Truly Madly Deeply or even Ghost had never been made, Gerry comes back to life in a series of letters and recordings he made to guide her back to good sense after his death. Go out and live again! Buy new shoes! Visit my folks in Ireland. Bed a man who looks just like me!
Richard LaGravenese is the screenwriter of popular disappointments like The Bridges Of Madison County and The Mirror Has Two Faces. Adapting Cecelia Ahern’s novel, he’s turned in yet another charmless and predictable romance that panders (maybe successfully) to toxic fantasies held by some straight women and their gay male dates.
Swank is hopelessly miscast, unable to convince either as a demanding New Yorker or a goofy romantic. Butler is as grating after death as he is before. Only the supporting cast, which includes Kathy Bates, Harry Connick Jr. and Lisa Kudrow, keep it barely watchable. Connick is weirdly compelling as a suitor who speaks without social filters.
In a perfect world, Hilary Swank could wait for that next great androgynous, working-class Oscar-bait role to come along. Instead, she has to suffer the indignities of mid-career Sandra Bullock.