P.S. I Love You on Blu-ray Disc
If you've ever lost someone you loved, or even if you've just loved someone deeply, chances are you'll identify with P.S. I Love You.
Hilary Swank stars as Holly Kennedy, whose marriage to Gerry (Gerard Butler) is typical of young marrieds: they love each other, but they fight, then they make up, then they love each other more than ever. It's part of learning to love together and live together.
This is how the movie opens, with a lovers' argument about where their lives and their relationship should go. Things remain unsettled except for their love and commitment to each other, when the opening credits roll – and then we rejoin our protagonists only to discover that it is now protagonist – singular – and Gerry has shuffled of the mortal coil, dying of a brain tumor and will therefore only show up in flashbacks, voice overs, or fantasy segments.
Holly is understandably devastated and the rest of the movie is spent with her trying to "let her tears flow, let her past go" (to paraphrase Pete Townshend). It isn't easy – and it's made even more difficult (or at least challenging) by a series of letters that start showing up, letters from beyond the grave.
Gerry obviously had time before he died to conceive a grand project he thought would help Holly get over her loss and he unfolds his plan via these letters (which, not surprisingly, end with "P.S. I Love You").
Does his plan work and does Holly eventually find true love and happiness again – let alone new meaning for her life?
Watch the movie to find out. It isn't one of the greatest love stories, romantic comedies, or tear fests, but we found ourselves intrigued, involved, laughing (mostly early in the film) and crying with our heroine. In short, the movie came very close to playing us like a violin.
The cast is excellent. Swank carries the movie very well while Butler, whose screen time is obviously limited, comes off as a very likeable man. The best of the supporting cast, whether it be for her performance or her lines, is Lisa Kudrow, with Kathy Bates also turning in a good performance as Holly's mum.
Unfortunately, it's a better movie that it is an example of the Blu-ray medium. The picture is presented in 1080p, of course, at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and, since this is a new movie shot, undoubtedly, with the latest technology, the overall quality could be spectacular. Alas, the picture is quite flat, exhibiting none of the "depth" that can make the best movies look so spectacular and involving.
Colors are generally good and the detail is also good, but it just doesn't leap off the screen at you and that's a shame.
We were disappointed in the audio quality, too. Presented in Dolby TrueHD, it's surprisingly uninvolving, mostly front-centric (and front center centric) with very little use of surround.
Now, this is primarily a talky film and therefore dialogue should be front and center, but there's plenty of opportunity for some nice ambience that is for the most part ignored.
So this won't be a disc you'll want to use to demo your home theater.
Extras include a short "conversation with Cecilia Ahern", the author of the book on which the movie is based. It's interesting, but could be meatier.
You also get "The Name of the Game is Snaps," a featurette focusing on the game featured briefly in the movie – a game that struck us as pretty dumb anyway. There's also a selection of "additional" scenes and a music video of James Blunt's "Same Mistake."
In all, a pretty meager selection of extras, and not a good showcase for HD either.
But we enjoyed the movie….
P.S. I Love You, from Warner Home Entertainment
The Devil's Own on Blu-ray disc
A different tale of love and one with a very different feel that you get from P.S. I Love You, The Devil's Own is a compelling thriller that gives us a look into what makes a man a man ("is it brain or brawn or the month you were born?", to continue the Townshend analogies from the review above) and how it's affected by the choices we make on our road through life.
It starts off slowly – if you can say such a thing about a movie that begins with a young boy's father being gunned down in front of his family – but despite its meandering first act it draws you in and keeps you interested in the goings on until you're hooked and can't stop watching 'cause you have to see how it's going to end.
Brad Pitt is Frankie McGuire, the boy whose father was killed at their supper table, but who's now grown into a "most wanted" IRA terrorist. After a vicious gun battle between his IRA cell and the British authorities, he realizes his side needs more firepower if it's to have any real impact on an enemy armed with high tech armaments including helicopters. They need missiles – and he needs to get away for a while to let things cool down back home.
So he comes to America on a missle mission, and he's placed by an IRA sympathizer into the home of unsuspecting police sergeant Tom O'Meara (Harrison Ford) and his family. Frankie's only reason for being there is to lie low while the deal for the missiles comes together, yet we discover that this cold-blooded killer is also a man with a heart, and he's drawn into the lives of O'Meara and his family, people who live the type of quiet, peaceful life he can hardly imagine but which, in a different world, we get the impression he'd really like.
But his past – and his present – combine to prevent any sort of happy outcome. While dealing with the kind of low life who can supply a terrorist group with sophisticated weapons, he discovers that (to steal a phrase) when you lie down with dogs you end up with fleas. The deal goes sour and Frankie finds himself looking down the gun barrels of ruthless people who will stop at nothing to attain their goals, in this case the cash promised to them for the missile deal. In short, and rather ironically, people as ruthless as he is.
Worse, his dealings also put the O'Meara family in danger.
Can Frankie pull off his arms deal and make it home to Ireland while preventing harm to his adoptive family in the U.S.? Ay, there's the big question.
It's a sad story in which there are plenty of losers, but it's also well worth a watch.
It's an excellent cast, too. Pitt's always good, and in this case his character is a man of few words, which lets him get away without having to mount as much of an Irish accent as some of his compatriots display. Ford plays his standard character, the stolid man thrust into events beyond his control, and he does it with his usual skill. But it's Treat Williams, as the bar owner/arms dealer, and Margaret Colin (as Ford's wife) who offer the most interesting characterizations.
The Blu-ray is pretty good, though not of reference quality. The 1080p picture (2.40:1 aspect ratio) is quite sharp overall, with some soft sections, but the detail is for the most part very good. The picture doesn't leap off the screen at you with outstanding 3D-like depth, but it's okay.
Audio is Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and it's pretty good. With explosions and gunfire to deal with, the dialogue doesn't get overcome with effects, and the overall dynamics are good and the low frequency effects channel is put to good use without being overpowering. The surround channels create good ambience, too.
Alas, there are no supplementary materials.
The Devil's Own, from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Jim Bray's columns are available from the TechnoFile Syndicate.