Hilary Swank's recent film career is sort of like a championship runner; they either win the gold medal or finish completely out of the top three. In 2000, at the age of 26, Swank won an Oscar for her portrayal of Brandon Teena in Boys Don't Cry. Hilary repeated the feat in 2005 for her role as Maggie Fitzgerald in Clint Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby.
Aside from those performances her film choices have been largely forgettable: The Core (2003), Red Dust (2004), The Black Dahlia (2006), and The Reaping (2007). While none of those movies will be largely remembered by the masses, Swank does deserve some credit for not sitting around on her Oscar-winning laurels and trying to diversify her portfolio.
The holiday season of 2007 saw the release of P.S. I Love You, a film based on the 2004 best-selling novel by Cecelia Ahern. P.S. I Love You is written as a romantic comedy, so the film follows the standard formula of having a gimmicky plot device. The gimmick here is as straightforward as the story. A young married couple — an Irish-born man named Gerry Kennedy (Gerard Butler) and his American-born Irish wife Holly (Swank) — are very happy together. Then, after nine years of marriage, Gerry dies of a brain tumor. I know, it doesn't exactly sound like a romantic comedy. Hold on, here's the gimmick that's supposed to give the film a comedic twist. Before he died, Gerry wrote Holly a series of letters guiding her on how to get on with things and live her life to the fullest. These letters show up off and on for a whole year after Gerry dies. After weeks of inconsolable grief, Gerry's first letter arrives on Holly's 30th birthday and urges her to go out with her married friend Sharon (Gina Gershon) and her single, but constantly looking friend, Denise (Lisa Kudrow). The next one tells her to splurge on a new outfit. Later, Holly and her two girlfriends are sent on a trip to Ireland, all pre-paid by Gerry. All of the letters conclude with the line, "P.S., I love you."
I can see how the idea of a grieving widow getting letters from her dead husband might have worked as a novel. As you're sitting on a beach or reading a few pages before drifting off to bed, that kind of thing might seem terribly romantic. However, on film I found the concept of a dead person directing someone's life from beyond the grave more than a little uncomfortable. If you're okay with that concept, this movie may be for you. On film, the concept comes off as a series of strange incidents, strung together to create a story. Holly is portrayed as a young widow who has lost the love of her life and wants everyone to know it. After about 45 minutes of the 127 minute film, P.S. I Love You begins to feel like an extended wake.