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I must admit, I was very surprised by this film. When you see the
previews for P.S. it looks as if it is nothing more than a simple
romantic comedy of sorts that hints more towards originality than
refurbished Hollywood. While there are elements of humor and greatness
in this film, the preview can be a bit dissecting. This is a tragedy of
sorts. It is the story of a woman still searching for her true self and
cannot do that because of tragedy that has constantly fallen upon her
during her life. It reminds me of It's A Wonderful Life when George
Bailey finally realizes that perhaps he isn't needed anymore in town
and decides to end his life. This is where our story somewhat begins
with Louise (Laura Linney). While it isn't as dramatic as Jimmy Stewart
on a bridge, Linney does give off this aura of depression and
pensiveness. Where is her life, why does she continue with this
repetitive routine at work, and what is her relationship with others
around her are simple questions that become much larger as the film
What really captured me with this film was the utterly beautiful chemistry between Topher Grace and Laura Linney. They really embraced this sense of adventure, comfortability, and fear of the unknown exceptionally well. From the moment that they shared screen time together until the rather poignant ending, I thought that the two of them made an award-winning pair. Topher is growing up quickly in Hollywood and this film should prove that he has the "chops" to play with the bigger boys. The same can be said for Linney that continues to prove that she can make movies that redefine the roles of both women in film and involved in film. While I think that her role in this film should have garnered her with an Oscar nomination over the over-hyped lackluster Kinsey. I am still honored to see her getting the praise that she deserves. Her emotions are so raw and real that you can literally get lost in her words and actions while forgetting that you are actually watching a film. I would be hard pressed to be able to name another actress that could do that with the material that she does.
The rest of the cast in this film supported our two characters with the greatest of ease. This film is the perfect example of small parts making a huge impact on a film. Gabriel Byrne is outstanding in a role that could have been very one-dimensional. He brings depth and almost a bit of "evil" to his character that he only helps give Linney that extra push into her climactic ending. The same can be said for Paul Rudd and Marcia Gay Harden whom may seem miscast or at least oddly cast in this film, but both prove with the greatest of ease why they continue to work in Hollywood. It was the strength of the cast that really brought this character study out of the ultimate fate of several others of the same nature. The characters/actors brought this story to life and gave it this unglazed vision of the real world where people struggle with past histories and long for the opportunity to see what life would be like if only one thing would have been different.
This leads me into my favorite part of the story which was the subtle themes and story that was happening behind the characters/actors. There was more than just one element happening to our characters which helped give so much depth to the story and people. It wasn't just Louise looking for love, but also the chance of a "what if" encounter that normally would never happen in your average person's life. I loved all the elements from Byrne's secret, to Harden's indiscretions, to Rudd's dual life that really built a strong point for this story. I felt as if these characters were real and that the elements that were facing them were not built by Hollywood, but instead crafted by the truth of another. That is what made this story work. There wasn't this all-powerful run to the airport at the end, but instead a somber moment that made you reflect back on the rest of the film, dreaming of another chance to watch.
Overall, I really liked this movie. I felt that director Dylan Kidd did a very wonderful and bold job with this film proving that he can handle everything from simple themes to multi-layered moments that will reign supreme in your mind. Linney and Grace's chemistry was outstanding. I watched this film with the words, "I didn't think it would go this far " dripping from my mouth. It was different than the previews and overall better. I suggest it to all and hope that you will be able to see the vivid reality that Kidd has painted with his film, P.S.
Grade: ***** out of *****
Basically the film is about a lonely 39 year old woman named Louise
(Laura Linney) whose only friend (self-admitted) is her ex-husband. She
lives her safe and humdrum life working at Admissions for Columbia,
talking to her best friend (Marcia Gay Harden) who is going through her
own adulthood misery, and watching happier, younger couples from her
office aloft. So, when an application with the name F. Scott Fienstadt
(Topher Grace), the same name as the young love of her life who died,
comes along she has no problem going completely out of her comfort zone
and daily routine to meet, seduce, and compare the new to the old, or
rather her indestructible memory of the old.
It's a dangerous plot premise-- already you've got the Mrs. Robinson comparisons, as well as the tiptoe out of reality with the same name as her dead love, and the adulthood alienation script. However, it seems that every single person in the movie was completely aware of the danger and paid so much care to their work that you don't even recognize it. Laura Linney, in a demanding role, manages to not only evoke sympathy while she tortures the younger man with her cynicism but also gives a complexity and innocence to the female character that most every actress in Hollywood strives for but seldom achieves. Topher Grace, as her paramour, gives a smart performance that mixes the self-confidence of youth with a restrained, intellectual, old soul backbone that really serves to offer himself up as more than a teenage, primetime face. Marcia Gay Harden is wonderful and real as always, she could have hammed up this character, but she played it very nicely -- so much so you could see the girl in the woman, which is exactly what she needed to do. The rest of the supporting cast is solid, and since it is such a small ensemble, heavily appreciated.
Yes, the ending isn't what it could have been but the relationship and the plot could have been a whole lot worse. If anything, I highly recommend it for people who love the small ensemble films that attempt to deal openly and honestly with out of the box relationships and being who you are at the age you are now. 6/10.
Writer-director Dylan Kidd's "P.S." is funny, sweet and moving and
better than most romantic-comedies these days.
Laura Linney's magnificent. Then again, when is she not? Let's face it, she, and not Julia Roberts, should have won the Best Actress Oscar for 2000. Linney makes acting look so easy, a pleasure to watch.
In "P.S.," Linney's Louise Harrington, a Columbia University administrator who maintains a close relationship with her ex-husband, Peter (Gabriel Byrne). One day she's startled when she gets an application to the School of Visual Arts from a young artist named F. Scott Feinstadt. Her shock? Her late childhood sweetheart was an artist named Scott Feinstadt. Naturally, Louise wants to know more about the young applicant and what follows is a wonderful telling of the lengths to which we go sometimes to rekindle old passions.
As captivating as Linney is in this film, Topher Grace, best known for his playing Eric on TV's "That '70s Show," turns in a performance that's surprisingly good, filled with warmth, humor. This chap's got a promising career ahead of him. Grace's F. Scott has attitude to spare and Kidd uses him wisely. Our introduction to F. Scott is not what we'd normally expect - a meet-cute or the initial interview at Columbia. No, the first time we're aware of F. Scott is through a telephone, when Louise calls him up to ask for samples of his work. It's a deft touch by Kidd. It's a breezy, fun turn by Grace who imbues F. Scott with confidence and a cavalier attitude that immediately lets us know what kind of a person he is even before we see him.
Louise's transformation once she meets F. Scott showcases what a fine actress Linney is. There's this charming schoolgirlish giddiness about Louise. We watch as this mature woman feels the excitement of a new love and it's something with which we're all familiar.
The film runs into problems when we're introduced to Louise's best friend, Missy (Marcia Gay Harden), a flirt who played a key role in the Louise-Scott relationship years before. I never quite bought Harden's role and the Louise-Missy conflict isn't nearly as interesting as watching Louise blossom into a sprightly woman with a tremendous crush. Her love affair is more enticing and funnier than a disagreement that seems fabricated to give us some conflict.
Kidd doesn't fixate on whether F. Scott really is Louise's sweetheart reborn. It really doesn't matter. This film is about life's delightful coincidences. Sometimes, facts are stranger than fiction. So it's irrelevant whether Kidd solves that mystery.
Kidd's direction here seems more assured than his debut film, "Rodger Dodger" (2002). But his characters aren't as memorable and "P.S." might not have moments you recall years later - I still remember the park bench and party-crashing scenes from "Rodger Dodger." But "P.S." still is an awfully good film with a fine ensemble cast. It could be tightened; the film feels about five minutes too long. But that's a minor quibble.
This is yet another good film having difficulty getting released. "P.S." isn't one of the great films of the year. But it's infinitely better than most of the movies in wide release right now. It has two outstanding performances, plenty of genuinely good laughs and is an enchanting romantic-comedy that deserves to be seen by more people.
"P.S." continues the trend this year of movies and TV shows with
aggressive older women attracted to geeky, barely post-adolescent boys.
While most of them come across as male fantasies, this one, based on a novel by Helen Schulman I haven't read yet for comparison, takes the viewpoint of the woman, to make her seem empowered. At least here we see how she herself is still mired in her own Glory Days (just as the male lead in writer/director Dylan Kidd's previous film "Roger Dodger" was), through her memories, her relationships with her brother and mother, and with her ex, whose student she was (though their relationship is talkily given additional problems of lack of urge control that seem unnecessarily complicated -- does Gabriel Byrne ever play a non-adulterous husband?).
Laura Linney is so good, however, that she portrays the character as stronger and making more sense than the situations or her continuing competition with her best friend, as played by Marcia Gay Hayden (and I couldn't figure out when the friend was in New York or California). Hayden's character even defensively says at one point "We're being just like the boys."
Linney is particularly effective with chilling monologues, as she dissects life's disappointments in comparison to adolescent hopes and dreams, that her character has faced not only in her life but daily as a college admissions director. I do challenge as a cultural bias and the character's hang-up the assumption that one is perfect at age 20, such that only the good die young.
While the plot is set in motion by a magic realism kind of coincidence that seems reminiscent of sci-fi-ish films like "Happy Accidents," "Sliding Doors," or "Me, Myself, I," let alone "Vertigo," even the characters agree by the end that they've had enough of this mystical stuff and that angle just gets dropped as they try to be real.
The film uses the Columbia University setting effectively and the soundtrack and scoring are full of New York City musicians, including Yo Le Tengo, Martha Wainwright, Citizen Cope and cellist Jane Scarpontoni.
p.s.(lower case!) is the title of an fine independent film that casts
Laura Linney as a thirty-something Columbia University School of Fine
Arts admissions officer who gets into a relationship with an admissions
candidate played by Topher Grace, who is 15 or so years younger than
she is. Their days together and the complications following make up
this film. There is an ex-husband, her mother on Long Island, her
difficult brother and the best friend from California (a show-stopper
performance by Marcia Gay Hardin)--all in there to complicate the
story. The film is fun, a good story, well-acted, a great star-turn by
Laura Linney and more proof that Dylan Kidd is a fine director.
Special note should be made of Laura Linney and the exceptional nuances she brings to the character she plays. She shows that she has one of the best acting abilities out there today--a kind of intuitive ability to inhabit a role from the inside and be free with it. Her chemistry with Topher Grace was special, though it must be said that some of this should be credited to his abilities and auger well for his future in film.
Any questions about Laura Linney, please return to You Can Count On Me and see it or see it again! Okay?
P.S. (2004) *** Laura Linney, Topher Grace, Gabriel Byrne, Marcia Gay
Harden, Lois Smith, Paul Rudd. (Dir: Dylan Kidd) Familiar Face of Love
Past What would you make of a supreme case of déjà vu in the form of
someone reminding you of your first and only true love? That's the
question that troubles 39 year old Columbia Art School admissions
officer Louise Harrington (Linney making a truly complex role seem so
natural) an unhappy with life divorcée who stumbles upon one last
letter of her daily sorting with the return address of an F. Scott
Feinstadt, which triggers her recollection of her late high school
boyfriend with virtually the same moniker.
Provoked to her curiosity she calls the applicant on the phone and as a ploy sets up an interview where with baited breath she must face the inevitable: it may really be her reincarnated love nearly 20 years past.
Feinstadt (Grace proving to be his generation's Tom Hanks) is an easy-going very comfortable in his old skin type who plunks down to the proceedings unaware of the special needs scrutiny he's experiencing as Louise is overcome by how uncanny he is and clumsily asks him out leading to a frankly adult encounter they have sex back at her apartment which unleashes a newly unbridled Louise to accept the unbelievable and the two begin to fall for one another, only with Louise on guard with the weird encounter giving her pause to reflect upon the failure of her marriage to her best friend Peter (the underplayed rumpled Byrne) who she discovers after the fact that he had cheated on her during their time together leading her to believe her entire life has been a lie. On top of this her only confidantes her retired caring mother (Smith) and her girlhood pal (and competition) Missy Goldberg (Harden) who lives on the West Coast, married with children and equally miserable- have grown weary of her doldrums. Adding to the mix is her younger ne'er-do-well brother Sammy fresh out of rehab and seemingly up to his old tricks.
Director Kidd, who helmed the indie gem 'ROGER DODGER', adapted the story by Helen Schulman's novel, has his work cut out for him in equalizing the main character's plight and the budding love affair into a solid relationship without it becoming a Lifetime Original Movie which at times it teeters into, yet injecting it with some humor and heart. But the solid acting of Linney who I admit has taken some time to admit she's a fine actress and surprising chops of Grace raise the level from a one-note What If scenario to a sweet, sexy romance meant to be. Linney's Louise feels like a second cousin to her breakthrough role in 'YOU CAN COUNT ON ME' in the sense that both women are at an emotional crossroads in their lives that could lead to even more dire lanes of despair but the chosen path they endeavor in fact strengthens them with newfound confidence and self-worth. Don't we all aspire to just that?
Topher Grace steals the show in this movie...he really owns the screen
and has a confident charm to him that you will see for years to come.
I'm a HUGE Laura Linney fan, and this is a fine performance for her,
but nothing you haven't seen before, as you grow to expect brilliance
from her. The acting was fine all around, but I do agree the second
half of the movie starts to drag and I think the relationship between
Linney and Marcia Gay Harden takes the movie off track...it's not
appealing. It's almost hard to buy the Gay Harden character all
Good Indie flick...a definite rental. This flick has more artistic value to it than Roger Dodger...more to it, but not as enjoyable interesting enough.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Imagine the shock Louise Harrington, a professor at Columbia University
gets upon receiving a letter from a student applicant whose name is the
same as her old boyfriend, who died in a tragic car accident years ago.
Little prepares her for the way Scott, a young man that shows promise,
will shake her up and awakens a passion she didn't know she had inside
Louise has been divorced from Peter, another Columbia professor, and in their last few years together had no sex together. Peter confesses to his ex-wife he is addicted to sex. Louise had no inkling about Peter's sexual life. He has had many encounters, mainly with students, women and men, as he doesn't discriminate who he takes to bed.
Scott sweeps Louise off her feet and awakens in her a newly discovered passion she didn't know she had in her. This relationship is threatened when Missy Goldberg, Louise best friend and confidante, comes into town because she suspects her friend is having a mad affair with the younger man. They have both been in love with the old boyfriend who had died tragically. Missy, in fact, has always envied Louise, something that comes clear in a final confrontation at the end of the film.
"P.S." was directed and adapted by Dylan Kidd, an interesting director whose "Roger Dodger" made him known to film fans. The novel in which the film is based was written by Helen Schulman, but not having read it, we can't make any comparisons, although Mr. Kidd's adaptation flows easily as a movie.
The best thing in "P.S." is Laura Linney. This actress projects such intelligence and radiates charm in everything she plays. We can't imagine anyone else in this part. Ms. Linney's contribution to the success of the film is invaluable. Topher Grace is also good as Scott, the student that knows exactly what he is getting into and awakens Louise into a passion she didn't know she had. Gabriel Byrne is seen as Peter, the ex-husband. Marcia Gay Harden makes a short appearance into one of the best thing in the film as the friend that has everything, yet has always envied Louise. Lois Smith and Paul Rudd have minor roles.
"P.S." is an adult film that makes us think because Dylan Kidd doesn't compromise with the story and because he knows how to present this tale about adult people going through painful situations and discovering things about themselves.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
well..i think this movie shows the power of love that we do not see that often around us. a woman who lost her first love long time ago, gets a second chance to love her first love again. how she handles the situation is confusing and fun in a sense, her present life is already in jeopardy, the only best friend she has is the one who stole her love from her, and her ex husband just tell her that all along through their marrige, he was cheating on her. well it is bit twisted . the plot was great and so was the story, the only thing that was out of a bit proportion was the "evil" best friend's character. Other than that this movie is an outstanding entertainment.
I think Laura Linney is an exceptional actress. I rented this movie
based on her ability to carry a plot. The plot synopsis sounded like it
had a bit of the supernatural, which I tend not to like, but I thought
the acting may be able to overcome a marginal plot line.
As it turns out, I think the synopsis overstates the reincarnation angle. It's really about relationships; the realism of adult relationships and the idealism of adolescent relationships. It's also about how some people struggle to overcome the emotional immaturity of their teens. It's about rivalry; love found and love stolen, but it does so in a way that isn't cliché.
The characters have a nice arc to them. Laura Linney's acting was up to my very high expectations. Gabriel Byrne turns in a solid supporting performance. Topher Grace also does an OK job, but seeing him work next to actors of greater stature, the contrast was evident.
If you enjoy character-driven plots, with good acting and few clichés, then you will enjoy this movie as much as I did.
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