Director: Dylan Kidd
If there were a verbal Olympics, twenty-something actor Topher Grace would be tied with Campbell Scott, the star of writer/director Dylan Kidd’s first film Roger Dodger for their enviable ability to master complicated dialogue and deliver it effortlessly. In 2004, Grace had two chances to dazzle the most ardent wordsmiths—one of which was as “awesome wingman” Dennis Quaid’s boss in the Weitz brothers comedy In Good Company and the second was in Kidd’s Dodger follow-up P.S. based on the novel by Helen Schulman. Together, the two roles garnered Grace the Best Breakthrough Performance award given to actors from the National Board of Review.
While Company was a wicked comedy drama about corporate politics and the abundance of money hungry wiz kids that are overthrowing the family man dinosaurs of yesteryear, P.S. takes a look at romance via a female mid-life crisis as Columbia University School of Fine Arts graduate admissions counselor Louise Harrington (Laura Linney) is forced from the drudgery of her work by the application of a young man whose essay, application, name and as she later discovers appearance resembles her deceased first love who was killed in high school.
When late thirty-something Louise invites F. Scott Feinstadt in for an interview, the two click and she impulsively invites him back to her apartment where they embark on an affair that gets tested by not only the predictable obstacle in age, status, gender and career politics but also by Harrington’s obsession with her old love that’s overshadowing any prospect of a new romance. Complicating matters is her frequent reliance on her ex-husband and fellow professor Peter (Gabriel Byrne) who shares some upsetting revelations with her, her recovering addict brother Sammy (Paul Rudd) and her equally sexually frustrated friend Missy (Marcia Gay Harden) who had a relationship with the former F. Scott as well.
Despite the rather dubious set-up which probably worked better on the page since we’re unable to get inside Louise’s head and think of her as anything other than ridiculous, the efforts of Grace propel the storyline. Often I find myself reflecting on his charismatic character in scenes that he isn’t in which makes his absence even more felt and in addition leads us to realize that without Grace, the film would’ve fallen flat. Overall, a slightly disappointing film by Kidd that pales in comparison with his first brilliant work Roger Dodger but worth it for those who saw In Good Company and wanted to discover more about the actor that manages to steal hearts even faster than he delivers lines.