By George Rose
September 9, 2009
The movie starts off about Holly (Hilary Swank) and Gerry (Gerard Butler) as a young married couple that got hitched just a bit too early. Their relationship was built entirely on passion and they forgot to incorporate some of that adult logic that keeps couples together for a lifetime. They fight, make up, then fight again. While their relationship is difficult, it's still very much endearing. Butler can be loveable rolling around in a pig pen (in my book, anyway) and Swank, for the first time, seems appropriate as the lead in a love story. She's not the prettiest tool in the shed but for a role like this the producers needed an actress that can, well, act. Someone that can be emotional, not just pratfall around until Hollywood says she's ready for love. The reason P.S. I Love You calls for more depth is because, early on into the film, Holly's husband dies. Not what you expected from your average romance, right?
Or maybe it is. I don't know. What I know is that I expected the movie to be a boring drama about a woman's recovery from the death of her husband. Since I was going through a breakup of my own at the time, I went to see the movie to look for moving-on tips. What I got was something else entirely. After Gerry dies, Holly begins to receive letters from her dead husband. No, not letters written by a ghost. That would just be tacky. These are letters that Gerry wrote prior to his death, letters he knew would help Holly heal. Now THAT'S romance and love! As Holly reads the letters, we are offered flashbacks of their relationship. It's then that we understand why their complicated love was worth fighting for at the beginning of the movie. Granted, how they fell in love is a bit unrealistic, but since I was in an emotional place I was very much receptive to everything I witnessed. Let me remind you again of one of my beliefs: movie watching is a personal experience.
Gerry has Holly do all sorts of things. The first instructional letter starts off small, ordering her to go out with her girlfriends and party a little. They eventually lead to her going to Ireland, where they first met and where Gerry's parents still live. You can imagine how emotional that part of the movie is. If you can't, let me explain my reaction to it. After buying into the fairy tale, I started crying. Not weeping. Not tearing up. There was a full on monsoon coming out of my face, which my friend Kaity thought was hilarious. While our relationships and their fallouts were different, I felt close with Holly. When she was sad, I was reminded of why I was sad. When she gave up hope, I gave up hope. And when she recovered, I was left with hope.
I went into the movie hoping for tips, but instead fell in love with Gerry and was broken hearted when I learned that I had to move on after his death. Moving on sucks, it isn't easy and it takes a long time. Sure, my ex leaving me wasn't the same as a husband dying but in those two hours it all felt the same: Holly and I were both alone and both needed to learn to find love again. The key to success? Time and experience. Time doesn't necessarily heal all wounds, but the new memories you make and experiences you allow yourself to have over time eventually create a "new you" and push away the past that once hurt so bad. Though the past can never be forgotten, it can be the starting point for a much bigger journey, one that leads to happiness and new love. P.S. I love you no longer has the same effect on me as it did in that first viewing, but that doesn't mean it doesn't still impact me. If nothing else, I learned that while Oldboy was a traumatic experience, there are positive ones that will come afterwards that will leave me better than I once was. P.S. I Love You did just that, all over again.
Overall Rating: B+