P.S. (2004)

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Released 7-Nov-2006

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 95:26 (Case: 99)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Dylan Kidd
Studio
Distributor

Magna Home Entertainment
Starring Laura Linney
Topher Grace
Gabriel Byrne
Marcia Gay Harden
Paul Rudd
Lois Smith
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music Craig Wedren


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    It is a struggle to think of a recent film with a more tightly confined scope of appeal than p.s. , the second directorial effort from Dylan Kidd, the man responsible for the twistedly funny Roger Dodger. Aimed at and only likely to hit the "female in her late late 30's" market p.s. is a pseudo mystical character study redeemed from disaster by some quality lead performances. It was scripted by Kidd and author Helen Schulman.

Louise Harrington (Laura Linney) is an admissions officer at Columbia University. Pushing 40 she has reached a stage in her life where taking stock reveals the emptiness of the shelves of her existence. Her marriage to her professor husband (Gabriel Byrne) has failed. They are still friends, perhaps they still love each other, but they have no physical spark to drive their relationship. She faces the very real prospect that the dreams of love and sex are gone forever.

Getting ready to go home one day she notices an application which has slipped onto the floor. It is from one F. Scott Feinstadt (Topher Grace), a hopeful artist. The mere reading of his name sends a charge through Louise for her first love was also a young artist named Scott Feinstadt! After an uncomfortable interview the pair launch into a torrid relationship. Not only is F. Scott a "name alike" he is a lookalike too and Louise can't get over the feeling that something mystical has happened and that somehow she has been given a chance to rediscover what might have been - for her Scott was killed in a car crash about 20 years ago.

p.s. struggles to find its genre. It has funny moments and romance but it is not a romantic comedy. It has some dramatic outbursts although it is too slight to be considered a drama. The mystical aspects are hinted at but not explored in any detail. For my part the most interesting idea thrown up by the film, our flawed recollections of our first loves, is not explored. The disparity in the ages of the characters, and the uncomfortable fact that she has a role in his educational future, are not considered in the film. Apparently the book is full of funny interior monologues from Louise. In dispensing with these Kidd has made a more serious and perhaps less likeable film.

The film is really a vehicle for Linney. She is in every scene and her angry, funny, sad performance is quite inspiring to watch. The character rings fairly true as does that of F. Scott, played with undergraduate charm by Topher Grace. The film was shot in 26 days with no rehearsal which may account for some of the scenes that are muddy and lacking in purpose. However, it does feature one of the most realistic sex scenes in recent memory. How often does Hollywood make us feel inadequate with sex portrayed as an endurance test between mighty gladiators. Instead, F. Scott and Louise struggle with clothes, protection and timing in a scene that is done in one cut!

The supporting cast of Paul Rudd, Gabriel Byrne and Marcia Gay Harden have some fun with their roles and the whole enterprise smacks of indie endeavour. The failure of the film at the box office may have something to do with the uneven nature and elusive ideas of the finished product. It may also have something to do with the tiny target market of the film.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    p.s. is presented on DVD in a 1.85:1 transfer that is consistent with its original aspect ratio. It is 16x9 enhanced.

The look of the film is quite soft which makes for a slightly dour tone. Colours are autumnal and the interiors a little stark. Nevertheless these seem to be the film makers intention and the transfer adequately conveys this look. The black levels are suitably deep but the contrasts are a little hazy. Grain is low level.

The skin tones are fine if subdued and the print shows a few sparkles of minor artefacts. I had to look hard to see any compression issues given that the film is on a single layer DVD.

The absence of any meaningful extras guarantees that the film has room to move. There are no subtitles.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

   p.s. has a Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded sound mix running at 224Kb/s.

The film is composed of dialogue interspersed with songs. It is the sort of film that I would have said didn't need a 5.1 mix but I am still surprised it wasn't accorded that honour. Once again, it was probably for space reasons.

The dialogue is clear but the soundtrack is a little quiet and needs higher than usual amplification. Audio sync is fine.

The soundtrack features a number of indie folk rock numbers from Martha Wainwright , Yo La Tengo and The Incredible Moses LeRoy. The songs are featured prominently and often played in full. It is supplemented by the music of composer Craig Wedren

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Theatrical Trailer

The DVD has no real extras. The trailer is really just an extended series of moments from the film.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

  The Region 1 version of p.s. has a commentary track by director Kidd and some deleted scenes with commentary by the director. The commentary has received positive comments from some reviewers.

For anyone truly interested in the movie the Region 1 version is preferable.

Summary

    p.s. is a strange mixture of genres that probably works best as a romantic drama.

Whilst I would have liked a better transfer and some extras the fact is that the limited appeal of the film meant that any investment was unlikely to pay off. Worth a look and probably indispensable for fans of Linney or Grace.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Monday, May 07, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DVR 630H-S, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TH-50PV60A 50' Plasma. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX - SR603
SpeakersOnkyo 6.1 Surround

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