Any fan of the movie “300″ will register a degree of shock at the sight of the great Spartan King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) donning the cap of a funny and impetuous Irishman in “P.S. I Love You.” Nonetheless, this character transition is just as equally -and believably – pulled off by “Million Dollar Baby’s” Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank), as a mercurial and distraught widow. It is a testament to the acting abilities of Butler and Swank to have so successfully executed the roles of Gerry and Holly Kennedy. Indeed, it is the reason why “P.S. I Love You” really hits the mark.
The movie is about two people living in New York who are very much in love, yet still experience the difficulties associated with life’s monotonies. After a brain tumor claims Gerry’s life, Holly is devastated by her loss and left without the only person who can help her overcome her grief. However, just before he died, Gerry wrote her a series of letters to not only guide her through her grief, but also to help Holly rediscover herself so that she can eventually learn to once again celebrate life. In the weeks and months that follow, more letters from Gerry are delivered in surprising ways, each sending her on a new adventure and each signing off in the same way: P.S. I Love You.
In addition to Butler and Swank, the movie receives strong performances from a talented supporting cast: Lisa Kudrow, Gina Gershon, Harry Connick, Jr., Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Academy Award winner Kathy Bates. Bates’ role, as Holly’s mother, was especially well-performed, capturing the palpable tension exposed by the mother-daughter relationship, as well as the closeness that eventually follows.
Though the plot shares many features of a typical love story—the romantic chance encounter that plays out as ‘love at first sight’, the fights full of passion and disagreement and the forgiving, loving make-ups—the concept of having Gerry communicate to Holly through posthumous letters is anything but typical. His letters reflect the care and compassion that Gerry had for Holly, and even though he knew he would soon have to leave her, he was already making preparations to help her cope with his passing. It was his love of life, his passion for life’s beauty, that he wanted to leave with Holly; the idea that love is undying and possibly even transcends life on earth.
“P.S. I Love You” has obvious appeal to the more emotive viewer, but that is not to say that someone more macho would find its message easy to ignore. We must always cherish what we hold dear, and never let a moment slip by without living it to the fullest. Real love is eternal; but even then, sometimes eternity is not enough.