07 January, 2008

Word of Mouth: "P.S. I Love You"

"A young widow discovers that her late husband has left her 10 messages intended to help ease her pain and start a new life"

I really enjoyed this romantic comedy-drama which is much better than most reviews have suggested:

"At just over two hours P.S. I Love You is, quite simply, a terminally depressing experience." Indie London

However, I and most of the audience I watched it with, found it regularly laugh out loud funny. Which is surprisingly rare for a comedy.

This film could easily be very sickly sentimental in the wrong hands but I admired the skill in which the sentiment was underplayed for realism or undercut for laughs. The film has a big pre-title sequence where the couple have a major row which states its intentions to be, at least, semi-realistic about love and relationships.

In that pre-titles sequence you also have the establishing of the characters and the setting up of the premise with subtlety and dramatic irony. Because there is conflict with the argument the audience doesn't feel so much like they've been spoon-fed information.

There is one literally throwaway moment which pays off wonderfully at the end. It’s such economical foreshadowing because the subject isn’t mentioned again but when it is, instead of the audience saying "where the hell did that come from?", we remember the pre-title sequence.

We skip the dying and death part and go straight to the wake after the titles which is another good decision. Everyone knows the dude is going to die from the trailers and previews so why prolong it if it doesn't move the story forward. The story isn’t about the death but about living a life after the death.

It can be defined as a romantic comedy-drama but it actually plays with the structure and couldn't be called formulaic. I found the flashbacks very effective. No doubt the premise of letters being sent from beyond the grave seems to require a preparedness to use your popcorn bucket as a sick bucket but it works quite well and is devoid of mawkish nostalgia. Although there is an element of creepy control freakery from the dearly departed, the letters and his intentions do make sense.

Although I would query one or two things, my only real criticism is that the ending ties up everything too neatly in a neat little romantic bow when perhaps it could have been kept unravelled a little bit, allowing the audience to wrap it up for themselves. It’s not a bad ending just unnecessary. The film is about 10 minutes over-long and by cutting that entire last sequence, it could have brought the film down to time.

I won't claim it's a classic but P.S. I Love You was funny, emotional and well-written. Recommended for fans of the genre.


Hope said...

well the film couldn't be worse than the book

Robin Kelly said...

Oh really? I was thinking the book might be good.

The film does stray away from the book according to the director but the things that bugged you might still be in the film.