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Stars’ chemistry triumphs in this nostalgic tale of love, leather and life

KICKER: From the vaults: Film

P.S. Rent it immediately

Oh, to stumble upon a fresh-as-a-spritz-of-lime romantic drama is something to be cherished. So I see it as my civic duty to tell you that Richard LaGravenese’s “P.S. I Love You” (2007) easily exists as the single most soul-penetrating, witty and cunningly smart film released in the last four years. Period.

Adapted from Irish writer Cecelia Ahern’s 2004 bestselling novel, P.S. I Love You, Holly (Hilary Swank) and Gerry (Gerard Butler) are the perfectly in love, sultry-sexy couple most young people dream about obtaining by 30. But here’s that spritz of lime thing I talked about, Gerry’s from Ireland, plays the guitar (oh yeah) and wears a leather jacket better than James Dean, and he dies about five minutes in after they bicker about her intensifying call to motherhood and the size of their chic, New York apartment.

He ends up calling her out on buying expensive shoes, and then he does an Irish striptease with suspenders, they have rowdy make-up sex and then it cuts to a numb-faced Swank donned in black attending Gerry’s wake. It’s four months later, and he’s died of a brain tumor.

Anyway, the remaining 121 minutes of the film is Holly going through stages of grief, redefining who she is and basically achieving acceptance. Fortunately for Holly, Gerry thought ahead and arranged a whole year of letters to be delivered to Holly written by him to guide her to closure.

Butler’s presence adds an exotic charm and realness that deviates from your typical Hollywood “it” boy staples like McConaughey and Grant. And Swank’s effeminate air, delicate features, award-winning smile and angelic voice serve to emphasis Holly’s vulnerability as her world is turned upside down.

Lisa Kudrow plays her warm yet insane best as Holly’s go-to gal, and Kathy Bates trumps all of her previous rolls as Holly’s broken and regretful mother. The entire cast fills up a character list that echoes a variety of personalities usually present in someone’s life, and they all work very naturally together to make you forget it’s a fictional tale.

From Holly’s disaster phase of hoarding take-out trash, and — rather disturbingly — talking to Gerry’s industrial looking urn on a nightly basis, she endearingly grows some outer skin, resulting in her completion of the final phase — a trip back to Gerry’s hometown and where he stole her heart … the emerald isle.

Ireland must have gotten her beauty sleep before filming took place because I’ve never seen her shot so beautifully. Through flashbacks, we’re able to witness a barely legal Holly meet scruffy local Gerry along a stone path, already knowing the epic outcome — a love everlasting. For anyone who is in love, has loved, yearns for love or has lost love, grab the tissues with Vicks and press play.

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