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Friday Film Review: Truly, Madly, Deeply

Truly, Madly, Deeply (1991)
Genre: Romance
Grade: B+

This is a film that I had loved in the past yet hadn’t watched in years. I think I was almost afraid to watch it again. Like when you have a favorite book you haven’t read in ages and you don’t want to risk the magic being spoilt. But when I decided to convert it from a tape I’d made, all those years ago, to a DVD, I crossed my fingers, held my breath and jumped.

The death of her boyfriend, Jamie (Alan Rickman), devastates Nina (Juliet Stevenson). Even months later, she cannot seem to overcome her grief despite all the efforts of her friends and coworkers. She’s going to weekly counseling sessions during which she pours out her loss and anger in great, gusty, heart wracking sobs which hurt to watch. But she doesn’t make any head way in moving past Jamie’s death.

Until one day she’s playing the piano and imagining that Jamie is accompanying her on his cello and, suddenly, he is. He’s there in her flat and she can experience him with all her senses. He’s really there. Dead but there. And she’s blissful and mysteriously unavailable to her friends for a reason she obviously can’t share. But is Jamie there to initiate the continuation of their interrupted life or is there some other reason?

This part was written for Juliet Stevenson, who is one of my favorite actresses, and she does it justice. She’s not afraid of, nor does she hold back, during the scenes when she’s required to sob to the point of a snotty nose and red eyes. She’s grief stricken and actually looks the part. But then if I were mourning the lovely Alan Rickman, with his voice which you can drown in, I’d be tearing through the Kleenex myself.

Here is a film about loss and mourning that isn’t afraid to wallow in it for a while. Yet the great thing is, it’s also a comedy of sorts. Nina’s flat is infested with rats, her plumbing doesn’t always work, her kitchen cabinets are askew and the sweetheart of a guy she meets during an immigration altercation in a local bistro coaxes her into a game of revealing their pertinent information during a hopping session down the sidewalks of London.

The funniest bits though, are the ghost friends whom Jamie brings back with him. Perpetually cold, they jack up the heat in the flat to just short of sweltering while they pass the time watching video tapes which leads to Nina’s famous quote : “I can’t believe I have a bunch of dead people watching videos in my living room.” They also rearrange her furniture, pictures and other knickknacks. And as their stay lengthens, Nina begins to remember things like how opinionated Jamie is – was – is, and can’t help but compare her life with a ghost to that of a friend who’s just given birth. Does she want to live a half life with Jamie or could she possibly be ready to move on?

The film never answers the questions of how and why Jamie comes back. If he indeed does really come back. Is it all a figment of Nina’s imagination? Is Jamie there for Nina or for himself? Wisely, the late Anthony Minghella, who both wrote and directed the film, lets the viewer decide. (And in a “shiver down your back” coincidence, he died at a relatively young age from a simple complication, just as Jamie did in the film)

I finished the film with a sigh and a heartfelt moment of relief. It is still as good as it was then. It still makes me tear up one minute and laugh the next. I’m still pissed that it’s only available as OOP and hideously expensive DVDs and VHS tapes. It’s still a film that I’d gladly buy a new copy of were it to re-released. Is anybody with the movie rights listening to that?

~Jayne

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

21 Comments

  1. Angie
    Jan 01, 2010 @ 07:16:45

    I loved this movie. :D A friend of mine back on GEnie badgered the rest of our group into watching it when it came on cable, and the next evening when we were back online chatting, we’d all joined her in becoming dedicated Alan Rickman fans.

    And yes, that voice…. [dazed squee] THE sexiest voice in the media. Sean Bean comes a close second, but definitely second.

    Angie

  2. Jayne
    Jan 01, 2010 @ 07:28:44

    I could wrap that voice around me like a blanket and keep warm by it.

  3. Leah Braemel
    Jan 01, 2010 @ 07:34:03

    I'm still pissed that it's only available as OOP and hideously expensive DVDs and VHS tapes.

    My hubby bought me a DVD of it at Best Buy recently for $11.99 (that’s the Canadian Best Buy and in Canadian dollars) It’s got a new interview and commentary by Anthony Minghella. Did he get lucky? I had no idea it was supposed to be OOP & hard to obtain. **edited** Checked Amazon.ca — wow, I could sell it for 8 times that now! *clutches dvd to chest–Mine!*

    That said, I LOVE this movie – Juliet Stevenson does a terrific job. I think it was the first movie I’d seen where Alan Rickman wasn’t playing a bad guy — so it was a refreshing change and lovely to watch because as you say … that voice!

  4. Charlotte Stein
    Jan 01, 2010 @ 08:02:25

    One of my all time favourite films. I remember being obsessed with the concept- still am. Just that idea of someone coming back who you loved that much…and he looks and talks like Alan Rickman…swoon.

  5. Jayne
    Jan 01, 2010 @ 09:04:03

    @Leah Braemel: Oh, really? Must investigate!

  6. Jaili
    Jan 01, 2010 @ 10:09:05

    I was young enough to be distracted by Alan Rickman’s caterpillar-like moustache and Michael Maloney’s creepy-stalker vibe, so I didn’t pay that much attention to the film.

    Happily, I finally was able to appreciate the film a couple of years later when I caught it during Channel 4′s film season (theme: disability). Had me bawling in the end.

    I know TMD will be reissued late next year in the UK. Perhaps it’s the same for the US via Warners or MGM? Fingers crossed!

    Edited: this year! I forgot it’s 2070 now, sorry.

  7. Jaili
    Jan 01, 2010 @ 10:19:04

    HMV has a Coming Soon spot for Truly Madly Deeply if you want an email notification as soon as it’s in stock.

  8. Lynne Connolly
    Jan 01, 2010 @ 10:26:22

    It was released by the Film4 company that was attached to Channel Four here in the UK, and it included other gems like “My Beautiful Launderette” and now has out “Nowhere Boy” about the early life of John Lennon.
    It came out at around the time of “Ghost,” but I always liked “TMD” better because it went deeper than “Ghost,” and it had Alan Rickman in all his gorgeousness in it.
    I have it on a VHS tape together with “Green Card” with Gerard Depardieu, another film I enjoy.

  9. Jayne
    Jan 01, 2010 @ 10:38:50

    @Jaili:

    I know TMD will be reissued late next year in the UK. Perhaps it's the same for the US via Warners or MGM? Fingers crossed!

    Fingers crossed indeed as a little Internet checking still lists only staggeringly expensive used copies for sale (saw one listed at $170 US.)

  10. library addict
    Jan 01, 2010 @ 13:07:15

    I saw Truly Madly Deeply in the theatre with my mom. Loved it.

    And though I will watch Alan Rickman in practically anything, it was nice to see him playing a good guy.

    I hope they do reissue the DVD. I will certainly buy it.

  11. Kate Pearce
    Jan 01, 2010 @ 16:55:39

    I loved this movie when I first saw it years ago in the UK, and I still love it. It’s one of the few movies that deals with grief and the difficult concept that even when you mourn someone, you still move on and change and become a different person, whether you want to or not, and that you can;t go back to how you were, even if you think you can. (If that makes sense) It helped me understand that you can grieve but you also can move on so much better.
    And I always think that’s why he came back-to show her that she had moved on and that she had learned to do without him whether she realized it or not. :)

  12. Bonnie
    Jan 01, 2010 @ 18:34:08

    Never really got into this movie. Alan Rickman squick’s me. Ugh. Different strokes.

  13. Sara Nash
    Jan 02, 2010 @ 08:35:43

    Disclaimer: I positively adore Alan Rickman, and Juliet Stevenson, too. This is one of my absolute favorite films. I have a region 2 DVD, but I really hope they do re-release it this year.

  14. Susan/DC
    Jan 02, 2010 @ 15:34:12

    I’m another fan of this movie. While I don’t adore Alan Rickman the way some others do, I like him and enjoyed him in a good guy role. Loved music and loved the bittersweet message. I thought Juliet Stevenson was excellent in this, but my favorite role of hers was “The Politician’s Wife”, a made-for-TV movie that is every bit as relevant today as it was in 1995, when it was made. Not sure if this should be required viewing for politicians’ wives or not.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0112126/

  15. Susan/DC
    Jan 02, 2010 @ 15:35:29

    I’m another fan of this movie. While I don’t adore Alan Rickman the way some others do, I like him and enjoyed him in a good guy role. Loved the music and loved the bittersweet but in the end optimistic message. I thought Juliet Stevenson was excellent in this, but my favorite role of hers was “The Politician’s Wife”, a made-for-TV movie that is every bit as relevant today as it was in 1995, when it was made. Not sure if this should be required viewing for politicians’ wives or not. She’s devious and smart but not particularly likable, but her motives are understandable and you can’t help but admire her cunning.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0112126/

  16. Delia
    Jan 02, 2010 @ 15:36:26

    Oh, universe. I read this last night and remembered that I’d put this movie on hold at the library, and what do you know, the DVD comes in for me today. :)

  17. SandyH
    Jan 02, 2010 @ 17:24:13

    Funny you should talk about this film. I missed seeing it. I found out about just recenly while reading Nora Roberts’ Bed of Roses. The heroine who is very much a romantic loves this film. I was intrigued and tried to find it only to discover it is out of print.

  18. Miki S
    Jan 02, 2010 @ 17:59:56

    Add me to the list of people who loved this. Picked it up (a long time ago) as a “staff recommendation” at Blockbuster (video rental, for those who might not know). If you want another film with Rickman as a … sympathetic character, you should look up Close My Eyes. It’s not for everyone – check around for reviews for what some will find too objectionable to make the film watchable – but I liked it nonetheless.

  19. Jayne
    Jan 02, 2010 @ 19:25:07

    @Susan/DC: I love “The Politician’s Wife!” Excellent miniseries about a woman done wrong who gets her own back.

  20. Jayne
    Jan 02, 2010 @ 19:26:15

    @SandyH: What does the character in the Roberts movie say about it?

  21. Carol
    Feb 24, 2011 @ 09:51:56

    Can you tell me if Jamie and friends were at any time playing cards in the film?
    Thanks!

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