P.S.

"Very Good"

P.S. Review


Dylan Kidd's first film, Roger Dodger, conquered the rarified nation of two-character drama, anchored by Kidd's punchy dialogue and Campbell Scott's commanding lead performance. Kidd's follow-up, P.S., suggests he's not quite ready to expand. Not that this is a bad thing. Nor does Kidd actually repeat himself -- as there are a good deal more than two important characters in P.S., and that's the problem.

The two we care about are Louise (Laura Linney) and F. Scott (Topher Grace), an admissions officer at Columbia University and a prospective student, respectively. Their relationship hangs on a fascinatingly awkward hook: F. Scott is the spitting image of Louise's long-ago first love (now deceased): in body, mind, soul, and some other ways that are even harder to fake, like handwriting. Louise, a lonely divorcee, latches onto F. Scott's eerie familiarity. F. Scott, as a young man, latches onto Louise's cautious older-woman hotness.

When they do have sex together, rather quickly, it feels like an act of possession -- spontaneous and not sleazy. It's key that we never actually see the departed boyfriend for ourselves. The best part of Linney's performance is how we can somehow glimpse F. Scott's uncanny resemblance in her eyes.

Meanwhile, Grace lets us see F. Scott for himself -- and where he intersects with the man Louise has been missing. Their juxtaposition of discovery and regret is beguiling. A lot of that comes from Grace (That '70s Show), who is almost appallingly charming here -- if a sitcom star makes the successful transition to feature film roles about once a decade, then an entire network's worth of cast members must be about ready to murder Topher Grace. He's played many of the same notes so far -- the sweet wiseass is a speciality -- but he fits into the skewed warmth of Kidd's writing perfectly.

So Linney and Grace are fine; I'd gladly spend several movies with them. But the other people in P.S. do not inspire similar devotion. There aren't that many other characters, either: There's Louise's ne'er-do-well brother (Paul Rudd), vivid but superfluous in his short scenes; and there's Gabriel Byrne as Louise's ex-husband, giving what has become a trademark Byrne performance (spend five or ten minutes looking annoyed at lack of character development, then get tired). Not interesting, but not a distraction.

In fact, I must admit that most of the supporting-cast problems with P.S. can be boiled down to Marcia Gay Harden. She plays Louise's longtime best friend, and for the third or fourth time in a row, Harden gives a broad and cartoonishly irritating performance -- she's not even irritating in a well-drawn way. Her character impedes the film's development, creating "plot" where one is not necessary by sheer force of personality.

Both of Kidd's films have the richness and simplicity of a short story (surprisingly, P.S. is based on an entire novel), with an indie film's deft ability to spin such brevity into a satisfying 90 minutes. But the extra characters in P.S. give the impression that even less would've been even more. When Louise and F. Scott are together, it's like they're the only two people in the world (three, tops). After a few obstacles, we're thinking: If only.

The DVD adds an audio commentary and five deleted/extended scenes.

P.S. Recast your film.



P.S.

Facts and Figures

Run time: 97 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 10th February 2005

Box Office USA: $0.1M

Distributed by: Newmarket Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 55%
Fresh: 44 Rotten: 36

IMDB: 6.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Louise Harrington, as Peter Harrington, as Ellie Silverstein, as Sammy Silverstein, as F. Scott Feinstadt, as Rebecca

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

With this fifth Transformers movie, it seems clear that Michael Bay is still trying to...

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Notorious British filmmaker Nick Broomfield teams up with Austrian music documentary producer Rudi Dolezal to...

The Mummy Movie Review

The Mummy Movie Review

To launch their new Dark Universe franchise, Universal has taken an approach that mixes murky...

Advertisement
My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

Daphne du Maurier's 1951 mystery-romance novel has been adapted for theatre, radio, TV and film,...

Wilson Movie Review

Wilson Movie Review

It's never helpful when a comedy becomes a bit too smug about its own quirkiness....

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

A fictionalised story from the life of Wolfgang Mozart, this lavishly produced period drama is...

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

This British satirical comedy may be a bit of a mess, but since it's based...

Detour Movie Review

Detour Movie Review

This may look like a rather typical American indie thriller, but British filmmaker Christopher Smith...

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Boldly optimistic, this action-packed adventure breathes fresh life into the DC universe with a welcome...

Baywatch Movie Review

Baywatch Movie Review

Clearly, it's a risky proposition adapting a cheesy vintage TV series for the big screen:...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.