Thursday, 7 February 2008

A cinematic experiment in sentimental viewing, as recommended by a sister with vastly different tastes and emotional reactions-by Carmody Wilson

Against my better judgment, against the arbiters of good taste (the Film Critics of the world, unabashed comptrollers of opinion), and against my own (fairly) proud film viewing tradition, I have chosen to see PS I Love You. Now before my faithful readers begin sputtering their incredulity or venting their cultural spleens at me, let me explain why.

My younger sister, a tough, pragmatic, and vaguely “high maintenance” married woman who works as an administrator in Canada’s federal prison system, is also someone who has a very tender heart, high expectations for personal experiences, and a fierce love for those closest to her. This last, I’ve always assumed, includes me, her high-minded, intellectually snobby, romantic world-viewed, unemployed, unmarried elder. As such, we’ve often got together at the cinema, with the best of intentions of enjoying ourselves, and come out bickering or in stony silence, our enjoyment of the film we’ve just seen grossly incompatible with the other’s. There have been exceptions, of course, Wes Anderson flicks being a mutual favourite, but mostly, when we do manage to see the same film, we disagree.

Which brings me back to PS I Love You, the highly improbable sob-fest starring Hilary Swank as a toothy widow and Gerard Butler as her bracelet-wearing dead husband. The premise: Gerry, Butler’s character, kicks the bucket and encourages his bereaved wife to get on with living in a series of pre-arranged letters delivered to her everyday. My sister claims she “bawled” throughout, as she was able to draw certain parallels between Gertle Butty and her new husband. This seems woefully unpromising to someone who has cackled or groaned her way through the better part of this decade’s romantic comedy offerings and views the majority of women who enjoy such piffle as being soft in taste, and just maybe, in the head as well. That said, she did draw me, reluctantly, I tell you, into watching The Notebook, and I had to harrumph and cough my way through the predictable ending to hide the damned, blasted tears that sprang to my traitorous eyes.

Based on the novel by Cecilia Ahern, Ireland’s greatest writer of faux travel brochures, PS I Love You has been in cinemas for weeks, and will undoubtedly remain there for countless more. This makes it even more of a hat-and-trench coat experience for me, as it proclaims to the world that the sappy premise and tear-inducing sentiments have been known to millions of women across the country, and I, drawn by their praise of the film, will now count myself as one of them. I’d much rather find myself at Butler’s last film again. At least 300 was a laugh riot. Here is Leonidas hot with fight, slowly and carefully caressing his wife’s flank on the eve of battle. A montage of sweaty haunch-hitting follows, climaxing with Butler arching triumphantly as he plows his wife’s posterior. Yes!!! You can see how passionate their relationship is! See how he loves her! Truly, Sparta begins at home. If there is a parallel scene in PS I Love You, placed carefully by the breathless director, Butty whispering Irishly into Swank’s quivering ear as he thumps her rump, I will not be ashamed to let loose and howl. I will however, be mortified if I find myself enthralled.

Will I be able to hold my head high after this egregious filmic sin of commission? Only if I don’t enjoy watching it. And if I do, dear reader, don’t ever think you’ll know about it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


-Kelly Dae (Wilson) Dash