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Romantic tearjerker fails to rise above the ordinary

By Noelani Torre
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:22:00 02/02/2008

Filed Under: Cinema

MANILA, Philippines?Viewers who walk into a movie with a title like ?P.S. I Love You,? ought to know beforehand that they?re in for a mushy couple of hours at the theater.

But, there?s a kind of mush that leaves a sweet, but pleasant aftertaste, and another kind that makes you cringe and wish you were somewhere else.

While director Richard LaGravenese?s film does have a lot of cringe-worthy moments, at least it doesn?t pretend to be anything other than what it is: A sappy tearjerker designed to make its target audience cry?and cry! Bring a box of Kleenex when you watch this one.

LaGravene?s film adaptation of Cecelia Ahern?s bestselling novel has a marquee cast: Hilary Swank, Gerard Butler, Lisa Kudrow, Gina Gershon, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kathy Bates and Harry Connick Jr. It tells the story of a grieving young widow, Holly (played by two-time Oscar winner, Swank), whose husband, Gerry (Butler), succumbs to cancer before the movie?s first 10 minutes are over.

Gerry reaches out to her from the grave, however (no, not in a ?Ghost? kind of way), through a series of letters that are delivered in the months following his death. Kudrow and Gershon play Holly?s girlfriends, Morgan and Connick Jr. are her potential love interests, and Bates portrays her mother.

At first, Swank seems miscast?she?s not exactly famous for playing rom-com roles?but she grows into her role, and her earnest, grief-stricken character strikes just the right note.

Gerry is Irish and, of course, musical, and Butler spends most of his screen time singing, strumming a guitar and looking charming. (In fact, almost everyone in this movie?except real singer, Connick?belts out a few tunes.)

Tension

The actors are competent enough, but they can?t keep the movie from floundering in its morass of trite plot twists and contrived conceits. While effective enough as a tearjerker?it?s a five-hankie kind of flick?this movie lacks tension and fails to engage its viewers? interest on a deeper level.

LaGravenese lingers too much on scenes that could have been cut to half their length, and he doesn?t seem to know how to tell a story through visuals. His camera lacks focus and direction, making a seemingly interminable scene drag even more.

The dialogue is often uninspired, as well, though the ultimate disappointment when it comes to words is Gerry?s collection of letters. As the string that ties the film?s parts together, you?d think that they?d be more stirring, but they?re too ordinary to remember.

?P.S. I Love You? doesn?t have any pretensions to greatness, but it would have been nice if its makers had at least aspired to rise above the ordinary.



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