The Watcher - Pity party of one

There is something profoundly wrong at the heart of P.S., a film about sexual desire after 30.

For one thing, audiences will be required to suspend disbelief when Louise Harrington (Laura Linney), a sophisticated, gorgeous, 39-year-old New Yorker, spends the entire film complaining endlessly about her withered youth, all the while glowing like an Iowa farm girl.

The remedy to Louise's female trouble arrives in the form a young applicant to Columbia's graduate arts program, where she is director of admissions. Something in F. Scott's (Topher Grace) frank, ballsy application jumps off the page and moves Louise to call a meeting with the iconoclastic kid. She promptly straddles the youth like a lusty vampire after his precious bodily fluids. Louise then falls deeply into delusional love and starts behaving like a neurotic junior high-school girl by badgering her bohunk to call her.

A Tadpole romance is one thing. But P.S.' increasingly dopey script, adapted from Helen Schulman's novel, can't leave it at intergenerational hanky-panky. Taking an ultimately disastrous detour into the supernatural, Louise becomes convinced that F. Scott is the reincarnation of her boyfriend who died tragically when they were still in high school.

In 2004, there were two - count 'em, two! - movies dedicated to grown women whose longing and desire found expression in vaguely supernatural liaisons with younger men. In the case of Birth, Nicole Kidman's paramour was so young, she had to perform a yoga move to kiss him.

Both films suggest that modern career women are so deeply unsatisfied and sexually frustrated that only the paranormal can address a loneliness and angst this deep and wide. In films like P.S., single women are the Untouchables of our age - by definition miserable and embittered.

Dylan Kidd's first feature, Roger Dodger, was a satisfying, piquant commentary on a man's romantic doldrums, but P.S.' flip-side portrait of female dissatisfaction feels flown in from another planet.

Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment. 97 minutes. $24.96 DVD.??