Review by Gordon Justesen
Laura Linney, Topher Grace, Paul Rudd, Lois Smith, Gabriel Byrne, Marcia Gay
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
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.
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.
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.
Featured on the
disc is a commentary track with writer/director Dylan Kidd, some deleted scenes,
and a preview gallery.