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Warner Home Video presents
"Every morning I still wake up and the first thing I want to do is to see your face."
DVD ReviewAt first glance, P.S. I Love You doesn’t look like much more than your average romantic comedy. Maybe it’s because I ignored the ad campaign leading up to its release, but I never assumed it to be anything more than a formulaic story of girl meets boy or some such nonsense. And while those elements are part of the film to be sure, the end result is something packed with a bit more poignancy than films of this ilk typically possess.
Hilary Swank plays Holly, a grief-stricken woman haunted by the recent death of her husband, Gerry (Gerard Butler). On the eve of her 30th birthday she receives a letter from the recently departed urging her to embrace life and stop mourning his death. The letter promises to be the first of many, with each one attempting to help Holly overcome the endless bereavement that fills her recent days.
On paper, or on the Internet, more accurately, this premise probably sounds farfetched and gimmicky at best. And it is. But to be fair, it also works. The film begins with an argument between Holly and Gerry, and while we're afforded some insight into their relationship through this lengthy dialogue, the film's narrative keeps us learning until the very end. Most of Gerry’s scenes are relegated to flashbacks, prompted by the arrival of every new letter, as Holly reminisces about certain aspects of their marriage and, of course, their first meeting. This would almost certainly be an oft-traveled road in a traditional narrative, but scenes that would normally be charming and funny are here infused with sadness as we know that Gerry's time is short-lived.
That's not to infer that P.S. I Love You is a superficial tearjerker, however. The film’s most positive attribute is its honest look at relationships and characters. Hilary Swank’s Holly is not perfect and our first impression of her is less than flattering. We catch Holly and Gerry amidst an argument which isn’t exactly rational. But that’s life. Having been the cause of the occasional ridiculous argument myself, I can attest. It happens. And in the very next scene, when we learn that Gerry has died, it packs much more of an emotional wallop. It reminds us that nobody’s life lasts forever and makes us wonder why we’re often so cruel to the ones we love the most.
This is a film about learning to pick up the pieces and move on after the death of a loved one, and it makes Holly’s plight a universal one. It balances some genuinely heart-wrenching moments (like when Holly repeatedly dials her deceased husband’s voice mail —just to hear his voice) with some obvious bits of formula. The comic relief isn’t necessary and feels excessive at times, as if the filmmakers worried the somber tone of the film would be too much for some viewers and pumped in the laughs whether they were necessary or not.
Overlong at 127 minutes, the film could’ve used a little trimming here and there. It looses its focus a bit in the middle, bringing its main theme to a grinding halt as it squanders too much time away on supporting characters. While the cast, particularly Swank and Butler, do a good job of carrying the film through its most prolonged moments of disinterest, P.S I Love You ultimately overstays its welcome long before the finish.
Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: A-
Image Transfer Review: While the standard DVD release of this title garnered some impressive marks on this site last week, the same cannot be said for the Blu-Ray release. Exteriors shots of New York and Ireland are crisp, colorful and detailed while almost all interiors are muted and washed out. Warner's high definition transfer is a considerable disappointment here, from the bland blacks that lack depth to the fuzzy detail and muted flesh tones of its actors. This might be a respectable way to view the film as the source IS clean, but it's far from the Blu Ray standard. Those looking for a crisp, high definition transfer for this film are bound to be disappointed.
Image Transfer Grade: C
Audio Transfer Review: Keeping on par with the video quality, the English Dolby Digital 5.1 True HD track is about as subdued as they come. The track is clean, but utterly lacking in pop. Granted this is a dialogue-heavy film, but it's also heavy on the music--none of which make an impression. For a True HD track the lack of panache disappoints, particularly when the lively karaoke bits of the film fall by the wayside. Again, the track isn't a detriment, but it's a wholly forgettable affair.
Audio Transfer Grade: C
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 28 cues
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
4 Deleted Scenes
Packaging: standard Blu-ray packaging
The first feature is a seven minute featurette titled A Conversation with Cecilia Ahern (featured in HD). It's a so-so sit down with the author where she speaks about writing the book and how it got turned into a movie. We also hear from the film's producer and director, but there's not much to chew on when all is said and done.
Another small featurette, titled The Name of the Game is Snaps details the rules for playing a silly barroom game briefly featured in the film. This is a throwaway extra that, while offered in HD, serves no purpose aside form filler.
Then, in standard definition, are four deleted scenes. They're actually worth a look, even if they only would've bogged the narrative down more than it already was.
The James Blunt music video, also in standard def., may be worth a look for fans of this singer/songwriter, but like most of the extras on this disc, it's a forgettable piece of filler content.
Extras Grade: C-
Final CommentsDespite a sluggish pace and the occasional lack of focus, P.S. I Love You is an earnest film about life after death. It may occasionally smack of Hollywood formula, but it’s honest and moving just as often. If the premise seems a bit strange, it’s forgiven because the point it makes is an important one.
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