Thursday, July 18, 2013

P.S. (2004)

p.s.P.S. (2004)

Directed By: Dylan Kidd

Written By: Helen Schulman and Dylan Kidd

Why I Saw It: It was mentioned in a post on And So It Begins, and it piqued my interest, plus I am a big fan of Laura Linney

My Verdict: Not a favorite, but well worth a look.

Louise Harrington (Laura Linney) works in the admissions office at Columbia, evaluating the work of young artists who apply for admission. She is pushing forty and divorced; her ex-husband Peter (Gabriel Byrne) is her only real friend. She also has unresolved ties to her first love, who died twenty years ago.


She receives an application from a gifted and somewhat socially awkward young man named F. Scott (Topher Grace). He shares a name with her long-ago lover, and their artistic style is eerily similar. She arranges an interview; when they meet she is further captivated by the similarities between them.


I liked many things about this film. I am a big fan of Laura Linney, and I have never seen her do better work. She was radiant as a troubled woman falling in love with a much younger man. She and Topher Grace have strong chemistry, and there is a wonderfully believable and slightly awkward scene where they have sex for the first time.

The supporting cast is also excellent -- we see Lois Smith as her lonely, affectionate mother and Paul Rudd, who receives disappointingly little screen time as her brother, an addict in early recovery. Gabriel Byrne also stands out as her sex-addicted ex-hubby.

Overall, I didn't find the story as compelling as I'd hoped. We are left wondering -- is there something "mystical" about Louise's chemistry with this seeming reincarnation of her long-lost lover? Or does she just badly need F. Scott to be who she wants him to be? While I generally enjoy ambiguity in stories, it felt as if the movie didn't quite know what direction to go. The appearance of Louise's friend and rival Missy (Marcia Gay Harden) only confused me more. Despite Harden's strong performance, I wasn't entirely sure how she fit into the picture.

On the other hand, the film touches on an interesting, potentially powerful theme, our tendency to project our needs and desires onto another person, the basis for many -- if not most -- relationships in their earliest stages. Is isn't until we finally shed those projections that things start to get real. This theme is deftly reflected in Louise's relationship with her ex-husband and best friend, a man she never really knew. I also loved the passion, awkwardness, tenderness, and frustration in her budding relationship with F. Scott.

This is a movie that seems to be improving on reflection and would probably benefit from a second viewing. While I didn't love it, it benefits from interesting storytelling and a great cast, and it has interesting things to say about relationships. I'd definitely like to see more of this director's work, and I'm interested in the novel, by Helen Schulman, upon which this film was based.


  1. I might give P.S. (2004) a look, thanks for the tip.
    I loved Dylan Kidd's 2002 film Roger Dodger-well worth check out if you haven't already.

  2. Great review. I enjoyed following along as you ended up liking this movie more than you thought you did (I do the same thing all the time).

    I'm definitely a big Kinney fan, and the cast seems very solid (though I have my reservations about Harden and Grace). I might check this out...assuming I ever watch another movie that doesn't feature talking animals.

    1. Ha ha! You remind me of my brother, a big movie buff who laments the fact that since Alex ( my 5 y/o niece) was born he hasn't seen a movie that wasn't animated. Linney is definitely great in this -- it's worth seeing for her alone. ;-)

  3. Really glad I motivated you to check this one out. I agree that it isn't a groundbreaking film or anything. I think it's a cute little indie with some stellar performances though. Linney is great, isn't she?

    1. Yes, she is. Of course, I've loved her in everything I've ever seen her in.

  4. I liked this film when I first saw it, but I barely remember it now. Perhaps I need to rewatch it. From what I remember, the cast was terrific, though.


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