Composer of the month John Powell month

Soundtrack review: P.S. I love you (John Powell – 2007)

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“P.S. I love you” is a drama about a widow who starts receiving carefully planned messages from her dead husband, all ending with this phrase. The messages keep arriving as years pass, keeping her spirits up and inviting her on a new adventure. This review is part of “John Powell” month and should make for an interesting listen because drama is not a genre this composer has ventured into very often.

The beginning (“Make-up kisses”) somehow fits what I had in mind as the sound of this score. “Bette Davis montage” confirms it: they both have that light guitar sound that’s very often used for bittersweet movies like this one. The music induces the viewer / listener to take the good and the hope from the story not the depressing part. These first three cues are nothing special though. I have a standard for scores with this sound and it’s represented by “The fault in our stars” and “Wish I was here”. We are not there yet.

“The cake” (the scene for the first moment when she receives a message) adds something extra to that guitar. The sound is even more hopeful in this one. “The urn” takes the music into the sweet spot of “perfect Sunday afternoon” scores. It’s the first magic moment of “P.S. I love you”. It also introduces some Irish vibes to tell us where the husband came from. I love Irish and Celtic influenced sounds.

This is the kind of score I change my mind about a few times while I am listening to. Sometimes I adore the sound and find it fitting, other times I might frown at it being too light. The music is enjoyable all the time but my level of connection with it changes from track to track. I like the melodic “Travel agent” while I dismiss “The jacket” even if they are not very different it sound. But those small differences tip the scale for me. Of course I enjoy the spirit of the Ireland related cues; “The Kennedy’s” has the loveliest fiddle.

For example I found “Reading letters” too similar in sound to cues referring to scenes with lesser emotional weight. I wanted to feel more the depth of the moment and the melancholy it must have brought. I am experiencing some strange sensations while listening to this score. I like the music, I like the sweetness of the sound but somewhere in the back of my mind a voice keeps telling me that “P.S. I love you” needed more emotion at certain times. I was looking for more moments like “Last tune”. That was a motif that needed to be developed further.

And yet there a cue like “The meeting” charms me completely. It waltzes its way inside me and I can’t help but smile. “Somebody’s Gerry” brings that emotion I was looking for without disrupting the flow of the score. It felt as if a sudden dark rain shower came over a sunny day.

With all this, “P.S. I love you” leaves me with mixed feelings. This will make me come back to it in a few months and see which side the balance tips…

Cue rating: 76 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 7 / 50

Album excellence: 14%

Highlights:

Last tune

The meeting

Somebody’s Gerry

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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