Truly Madly Deeply (1991)
Truly Madly Deeply (1991)

Genre: Fantasy and Romantic Drama Running Time: 1 hr. 46 min.

Release Date: May 24th, 1991 MPAA Rating: PG

Director: Anthony Minghella Actors: Juliet Stevenson, Alan Rickman, Bill Paterson, David Ryall, Deborah Findlay, Michael Maloney, Stella Maris

 


 

N

ina Mitchell (Juliet Stevenson) often feels the presence of her boyfriend Jaime (Alan Rickman), who never offers up any profound commentary on the world or God, but rather reminds her to brush her teeth properly or walk in the middle of the street at night if she’s feeling scared. His communication with her is essentially just sensible advice. He’s been dead for a few months now and the advisement is essentially just a coping mechanism for Nina. She’s noticeably depressed and having great difficulty moving on. She tries to be concerned with her faulty cabinetry or the large rats that inhabit her London flat at times, but when she speaks with her therapist (Jenny Howe), her emotions spill out. She’s enraged that Jaime’s no longer with her, and oftentimes feels that there’s no reason to even get out of bed.

Her boss Sandy (Bill Paterson) attempts to take her out and away from her work at the language agency where she translates various articles for clients or teaches students to speak English. But she increasingly refuses to leave her lonely home, which continues to fall apart. She’s surrounded by men, however, from Keith (Keith Bartlett) the plumber-of-sorts to the Polish handyman Titus (Christopher Rozycki) to George (David Ryall) the exterminator. And several of them are interested in her romantically. She also has her sister Claire (Deborah Findlay) for support, but Nina becomes infuriated when Claire asks for Jaime’s cello for her son Harry (Ian Hawkes) to use at school.

That night, Nina spies what she believes to be one of her many hallucinations – but this particular apparition of Jaime is uncannily real. He explains that he’s back from the dead, now pondering the afterlife and the slowly diminishing capacity for love exhibited by many parents. Jaime uses the word “ghost” to describe himself, but goes out of his way to hide from sight when visitors come calling. Nina is overjoyed, even though she admits he’s probably just a figment of her imagination. Nonetheless, it’s a delightful daydream and she holes up in her house for a week to enjoy his company. But things start to get out of hand when Jaime invites a few of his “dead” friends over to watch a movie. Soon, he’s a bit too human again, engaging in little annoyances that remind Nina that anyone can have faults. To complicate matters further, she finds herself falling for friendly psychologist Mark (Michael Maloney).

The music is sensational – not only the gentle piano tunes that aid with Nina’s narrative therapy sessions, but also the cello and piano duets that Nina and Jaime strum together in her frequent visions. They sing, dance, and play instruments quite frequently, using the arts as a manner of connecting and demonstrating their love. But there’s also a sense of melancholy presiding over the whole ordeal, in part because of the knowledge that Jaime’s ghost can’t stay forever, and fractionally due to the foreboding violins that take over during moments of solitude for Nina (she seems to be contemplating the same things that the audience will inevitably feel). It’s all very bittersweet, although there are sequences of dry humor that take the edge off the morbidity of her situation, paired with the several phenomenal romantic junctures.

The approach is rather slow; writer/director Anthony Minghella takes his time establishing the characters. And, while intermittently very moving, the plot occasionally lingers too long on Nina’s failures to advance her practical existence. Stevenson’s performance is quite powerful, however, making this much more of an emotional drama than the comedy it’s often advertised to be. The conclusion is appropriately eloquent (crushing, in fact, when Jamie’s purpose becomes more apparent), with the actions never being forced or manipulative. It’s a highly creative work made on a short schedule and a minuscule budget – but one showing filmmaking skills that allowed Minghella to go on to direct films like “The English Patient” and “The Talented Mr. Ripley.”

– Mike Massie

  • 9/10