She Gets Letters, She Gets Letters
As hopelessly contrived and predictable as "P.S. I Love You" is, it's still a charming, touching romantic comedy. The most surprising thing about it is Hilary Swank, whose resume of serious films has made a humorous role seem an unlikely choice. She makes full use of her softer, sillier side, playing a character that's loveable and irritating at the same time. I say this in spite of the fact that serious undertones run through the film, as they always do in romantic comedies; after losing her husband to cancer, Swank's character spends the rest of the film trying to find herself (for lack of a non-clichéd term). The twist is that her husband is posthumously guiding her with a series of handwritten letters, all of which were so strategically located that only a well-executed plan could see it through. A sweet but nonetheless baffling idea: How could a terminally ill man carry off something this elaborate in such a short period of time?
Never mind--I was still moved by the light-hearted sentimentality of the story, so I have to give credit where credit is due. The film opens in wintertime New York City with Holly Kennedy (Swank) storming home, absolutely furious. Right behind her is her Irish husband, Jerry (Gerard Butler), who knows he's said something to offend Holly but doesn't know what. It isn't until they enter their apartment that they really let loose: Holly is offended because Jerry commented on her waiting to have children. Now back in their apartment, everything he says gets misconstrued in some way, and a full-blown fight ensues. It isn't long before they make up, however, and by the time they do, Jerry promises his wife that he isn't going anywhere, despite their financial troubles, despite their current job situations. After nine years, he still loves her. He'll always love her, no matter what.
Naturally, the very next scene takes place at his memorial service. The audience is thankfully spared the unnecessary melodrama of his failing health and eventual death; no such scenes are included in this film. The filmmakers wisely chose to focus on what happens afterwards with Holly, who--as you might have guessed--is so grief-stricken that she shuts herself off and lets herself go. It isn't until her thirtieth birthday that things begin to change; as her worried family and friends sit by her side, a birthday cake is delivered with a mini cassette recorder taped to the inside of the box. Holly presses the Play button and hears Jerry's voice explaining that he wrote her a series of letters as he was dying. Holly will receive them all over a period of time, and each one will instruct her to do something bold and adventurous. Basically, his words will push her into living her life without focusing so much on his death.