I saw the film a while ago and was aware of one massive thing that had been altered in the book to film conversion - the location. I was told that the book is set in Ireland and yet the film has been relocated over the ocean to New York. What I didn't realise is that this is not the only thing that has been altered.
PS I Love You was Cecelia Ahern's debut book and became a bestseller pretty quickly. The plot revolves around Holly, who has been widowed at the tender age of 30 and without husband Gerry is lost and doesn't know how to move on. Then she learns that while Gerry lay dying, he thought to write her notes - one for every month for the rest of the year - and each note is going to guide her forward.
This concept is what was taken over to the film and all the incidentals around that seem to have been lost. Holly and Gerry remain the same. Gerry, played by Scotsman Gerard Butler, is Irish (terrible accent though sorry Gez!) and Holly, played by Hilary Swank, has two best friends called Sharon (Gina Gershon) and Denise (Lisa Kudrow). Her cooky younger sister Ciara and mum are in it too and there is a barman called Daniel... and that's it.
For the film adaption, characters were cut or merged into new people and large chunks of the plot are completely altered or created from scratch. Holly's poor dad and THREE brothers are all ditched, possibly in an attempt to make the film more girly. They play a massive part in the book as Holly is a family girl and has them around her often, even against her wishes! In the film, she sees her mum more out of obligation than anything.
The little nuances of the book are still there - the bedside lamp that forces them to get out of bed on a cold night and walk back in pitch black, the passionate rows, the new job tradition that only they know about and the idea that this is a relationship so tightly wound that he has been her reason for existing for so long and now she doesn't know how to be without him.
The book examines Holly's constant battle with depression, loneliness and the uphill battle to keep up appearances and not be a total downer with her friends as their lives just seem to get better and better. The film deals with a more external battle and the moments where Holly gets really overwhelmed and emotional are much fewer and far between, meaning that they have more effect than in the book where she seems to be forever crying or worrying or over-thinking something.
This is one of the rare book to film conversions where I would say the two have very little to do with each other and should not be looked at as a comparison. Instead they should be viewed as two completely different mediums that took an original concept and went with it. The original concept remains in tact - the letters from a lost love guiding you through the haze of the aftermath of their death - but the incidentals, the concurrent storylines, even the characters are largely altered and are so far in many cases from the original they don't even warrant a comparison. The supporting cast in the film are a mixed bag but all interesting enough with the likes of Kudrow, Gershon, Kathy Bates, Harry Connick Jnr, James Marsters and Jeffrey Dean Morgan.
Much like One Day, the book was well written and interesting - but dragged on for too long. The film was trimmed and the result was a punchier, easier to digest, more compact version of the same topic. The idea is a brilliant one but even brilliant ideas can be laboured.
So, bizarrely - even though the film made a God-awful attempt at converting the book onto the big screen, I preferred it to the book. It lacked the longevity which made the book drag and achieved more of a balance between heartbreak and laughter.
Book - 3/5 FOBLES
Film - 3.5/5 FOBLES