Making the Grades
Although dead people show up now and then in the movies, don't expect P.S. I Love You to be a remake of the 1990 film Ghost in which a murdered man tries to communicate with his girlfriend through a psychic. It's true Gerry Kennedy (Gerard Butler) appears on screen following his demise, but only in the imagination of his grieving wife Holly (Hillary Swank).
Before his death, the couple engaged in rather loud and fiery arguments--moments she comes to regret. Yet they also shared a passionate love, one they devoted themselves to despite their families' disapproval and one that proved to be far too brief.
Distraught by her loss, Holly holes up in their apartment and ignores all calls until her friends Denise (Lisa Kudrow), Sharon (Gina Gershon), and John (James Marsters) arrive unannounced to celebrate her 30th birthday. However, the intervention is disrupted by the delivery of a birthday cake from her deceased spouse. Attached to the box is a tape recorder with a message from Gerry, telling her of a series of letters he prepared for her during his illness. Each of them has an assignment to help her through the mourning stages.
The first one arrives by mail and sends her scurrying out the door to buy a new outfit. Already worried about her daughter's fragile mental state, Holly's mom Patricia (Kathy Bates) tries to dissuade her from engaging in activities she worries will prolong the heartache.
Fortunately, the young widow is supported by friends and a budding camaraderie with a socially awkward but sincere bartender named Daniel (Harry Connick Jr.). Having suffered his own unhappiness, he becomes a strong shoulder for Holly to lean on as she works through her remorse and begins to discover her ability to cope.
Yet during her grieving, Holly has periods of reckless behavior when she relies on alcohol for pain relief and later jumps into bed with a stranger she's barely met. Numerous shots of a woman in her underwear and a brief scene with male buttock nudity in a nonsexual situation are also included, along with frequent profanities and vulgar comments about anatomy and sexual relations.
Still this story of love and loss comes with plenty of tender moments and may be the perfect incarnation of the cliche "it's better to have loved and lost than never loved at all." Yet while the screenplay might cause adults to reconsider their relationships, it's likely this affectionate postscript is too mature for most minors.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about P.S. I Love You.
What does Daniel mean when he says he would like to be “somebody’s Gerry”? What kind of relationship does he yearn for?
Although Holly admits she was frequently angry with her husband, how does she feel about their arguments after his death? Why does she become involved with the couple fighting over real estate?
Both Holly and her mother experience the loss of a spouse. How are their situations similar? How do they differ? How does Holly learn to deal with her friends’ happiness?