There are many good actresses unsuited for romantic comedies, and Hilary Swank, despite her considerable talents, is one of them. The blend of soft-cute sexiness and humor that’s a prerequisite for the genre’s leading ladies isn’t something Swank is fully capable of, as her cheery warmth comes accompanied with a tough, intelligent intensity that doesn’t mesh well with schmaltz. To be fair, though, it’s hard to think of any female star who could salvage P.S. I Love You, a bromide-filled contrivance in which Swank’s Holly gets over the death of her beloved Irish husband Gerry (Gerard Butler) with the help of letters written by Gerry and then sent to her after his death. Problems arise from the introductory scene featuring the spouses bickering, as it firmly establishes Holly as an unpleasant killjoy with whom the boisterous, fun-loving Gerry would never be so smitten, and those problems persist once the film jumps ahead to Holly’s grieving, which takes the form of her holing up in a messy apartment, not showering, imagining that Gerry is with her, and singing along to Judy Garland. Once they begin arriving, Gerry’s missives encourage Holly to remember their love (thus providing the pretext for flashbacks to the couple’s happy and sad times) and also to be with friends and have fun. Unfortunately, there’s scant joy to be derived from Holly’s ensuing escapades involving karaoke, fishing in Ireland with best friends Sharon (Gina Gershon) and Denise (Lisa Kudrow), and having a one-night stand with a hunky singer (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), lethargic incidents made more leaden by filmmaker Richard LaGravenese’s bland directorial eye. Swank smiles and cries on cue, but whether prancing about in her bra—clumsy attempts to counteract the masculinity of her Oscar-winning Boys Don’t Cry and Million Dollar Baby roles—or pratfalling off a club’s stage, she never seems comfortable trying to sell this banal, corny scenario. Nonetheless, she fares better than Harry Connick Jr., who, as a potential suitor with a medical condition that makes him blurt out whatever comes to mind, is stuck trying to embody a half-wit character who’s part wise hunk, part Mr. Subliminal, and—at least when he offers up an inapt “Niiice!”—part Borat.
- Richard LaGravenese
- Richard LaGravenese, Steven Rogers
- Hilary Swank, Gerard Butler, Lisa Kudrow, Gina Gershon, Harry Connick Jr., James Marsters, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kathy Bates
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