The title could have been PS I'm a Seriously Creepy Weirdo, and the necrophiliac high concept would work, with just a little tweaking, for a psychological horror film. But this is the movie version of the chick-lit bestseller that turned its 21-year-old author, Cecelia Ahern, daughter of the Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, into a publishing sensation. A twentysomething widow finds that her late husband had secretly written her a series of letters during his illness, and arranged for them to reach her at regular intervals after his death, as if from beyond the grave, telling her how to blossom and love life again after he was gone.
The story is now transferred partly to New York, and stars Hilary Swank as the grieving babe Holly and Gerard Butler as Gerry, the dishy, life-affirming husband from Ireland, who is persistently recalled being absolutely wonderful in flashback. Their relationship is depicted in the opening scene with a toughly realistic row, bordering on a breakup, then a joyful reconciliation. Then we move smartly to Holly's picturesque widowhood, the movie having averted its eyes from the actual details of Gerry's illness and death from a brain tumour. And from there on in, surrounded by feisty friends and family, Holly gets on with the business of opening Gerry's thoroughly weird letters, which are written on what looks like some kind of modern parchment in disconcertingly bold and clear italic script, produced as if on a word-processor.
The skin-crawling question of who exactly is delivering these letters doesn't worry anyone much. Will Holly find love again? Will she find it with the smiley Irish hunk (almost a clone of Gerry) who she meets on a visit to the Old Country? Or will it be the strange, shy, vulnerable guy with a kind of autism played by Harry Connick Jr? Well, there are no prizes for guessing which one gets to be her lover and which her supportive platonic best friend. The movie is notable for having a toe-curling rendition of Fairytale of New York, recited by the smiling, liberal priest at Gerry's wake. It wasn't bleeped - though I could have done with one long bleep through this film.
Before Gerry dies, he and Holly are shown engaged in foreplay. They kiss passionately and peel off layers of clothing until they're down to their underwear. Gerry does a striptease-type dance in boxers and suspenders. After his death, the fact that she can still sense him near her is depicted by shots of the two snuggling in bed.
But Holly also has a one-night stand with another man after her husband dies. The man's bare backside is shown. And the two are pictured in bed together covered with a comforter. He tells her that there's no way Gerry could fault her for the encounter that's just taken place because it's all part of living.
Holly's friend Denise is a real man-eater who knows how to work a room to find an eligible guy. Her strategy for cutting through the small talk is to ask each man she meets up front whether he's single, straight and employed. If he answers all these to her satisfaction, she kisses him to find out if sparks will fly. Denise feels justified "star[ing] at a man's backside with cheap, vulgar appreciation," because she believes that men have a long history of objectifying women.
Under Denise's tutelage, Holly is encouraged to forget her sadness by partying at a private gay club. They dance with men who also spend time dancing with other men. And Holly is reminded not to go too long after Gerry's death without having sex—because she gets "b--chy" when she's "deprived."
Besides Holly's girlfriends, her other companion in her grief is Daniel, who works at the pub her mother owns. Daniel is sex-crazed and crass about it, explaining that he once went through a "major hooker phase" and quit only when he ran out of money. He tells Holly that instead of being a shoulder for her to cry on he'd "rather be another body part you need." He asks her if she's thought about him in the nude.
Sex is discussed in a dozen other crude ways, including comments about homosexuality, masturbation and sexual positions. Holly is shown twice in just her underwear—once in a bra and tights, once in panties and a bustier. Other times, she's shown in a short skirt, one outfit that reveals her midriff down to her hip bones and others that show her cleavage.