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PS

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Laura Linney, Topher Grace, Paul Rudd, Lois Smith, Gabriel Byrne, Marcia Gay Harden
Director: Dylan Kidd
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Columbia Tri Star
Features: See Review
Length: 97 Minutes
Release Date: February 8, 2005

Film **1/2

Some films manage to start out with a strong enough premise, only to have its momentum shaken the wrong way by unnecessary subplots and supporting characters that feel tacked on to give the film added energy. Such is the case with P.S., which starts out on the right note, only to include too many inexplicable elements added into the mix. Had the intriguing premise been the sole event of the movie, we might've had something here.

The film zeroes in on Louise Harrington (Laura Linney), an admissions director at Columbia University. Although she has been divorced from Peter (Gabriel Byrne), a fellow professor, the two still keep in contact. But Louise's world is shaken when she meets aspiring art student F. Scott Feinstadt (Topher Grace).

Right before she even meets him, she suspects something peculiar about him from the penmanship on the letter he sent to the school. Eager to meet him right away, Louise schedules a one on one meeting with the young man. After going over academic issues, Louise is immediately attracted to F. Scott, which is conveyed by a hook up between the two just moments after meeting.

Why is Louise drawn to this younger man? She is convinced that he may be the reincarnation of her long deceased boyfriend from high school. Added to this, her high school love even carried the name of Scott Feinstadt. The young boy's complexion and way of writing and way of delivering art are more than enough to have Louise believe what she feels to be true.

At this point, the movie is on a roll. The story of a woman in her 40s dating a man around 20 years younger for understandable reasons is engaging, and Laura Linney and Topher Grace spark nice genuine chemistry. For the record, I am in my mid 20s and if a woman as stunning as Laura Linney came onto me I would give in, no matter how big the age gap might be.

Then, the movie gets sidetracked by adding in one too many unnecessary scenes involving the supporting players. There's Peter, the ex-husband, confessing to Louise that he cheated on her during her marriage and is now engaging in an affair with her brother (Paul Rudd) that seems to have come way out of left field.

Then the story becomes a colorful soap opera when Louise's supposed high school friend, Missy (Marcia Gay Harden), who had an affair with the high school boyfriend, now tries to pull the same scheme with the new love in Louise's life. Marcia Gay Harden is another outstanding actress, and gloriously beautiful, but I felt that her character, along with the other supporting elements, managed to distract from the more important story at hand.

So, for the most part, P.S. is an effective tale of an eccentric romance that could have benefited more if the latter half of the film didn't go overboard with the scenes involving the supporting characters. Don't get me wrong, character observations are highly important, in both lead and supporting matters, but when you have such an intriguing premise at hand, too much of a good thing can sometimes produce a negative effect.

Video ***1/2

This is a most outstanding anamorphic transfer from Columbia Tri Star. Image quality is of the highest of order in terms of clarity and detail, although several darkly lit scenes don't benefit as well as lighter lit scenes or those set in daytime. Overall, quite an exceptional offering.

Audio **1/2

The 5.1 mix does what it can with such a dialogue driven piece. Spoken words are delivered in grand form and momentary music playback sounds effective enough. It's not a bad sound presentation by any means, but a good one with a limited range, if there is such a thing.

Features **

Featured on the disc is a commentary track with writer/director Dylan Kidd, some deleted scenes, and a preview gallery.

Summary:

In short, P.S. is a film I'm in the mix on. I would've liked to seen the film stick with the premise it had at the forefront, rather to go into such unneeded territory in the second half of the picture. However, good performances from Laura Linney and Topher Grace who have marvelous chemistry.

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