Truly Madly Deeply Review
Nina (Juliet Stevenson) is a woman having a great deal of trouble getting over the loss of the love of her life, Jamie (Alan Rickman). She has an inability to move on with her life, choked by her passionate grief. Her house is in a state of decay, rat-infested and in constant need of work. Although friends, family and co-workers try to reach Nina and to help her to move on with her life, she pushes them away, preferring to instead create a wall around her emotional tenderness. While Nina is playing the piano one day, Jamie returns as a ghost, and he and Nina immediately pick up life where they left off – but, of course, things just aren't quite the same. Jamie brings some ghostly friends with him and they spend a lot of time watching videos or re-arranging the furniture and décor. Then, Nina meets another man she might be able to love (Michael Maloney) but is unable to make a proper connection with him because of her feelings for Jamie.
Nina has previously refused to accept the reality of her situation, cocooning herself in a fantasy world where the dead can co-exist harmoniously with the living. There is an element of surrealism and fantasy to grief and this is neatly sewed into the atmosphere of Truly Madly Deeply. Nina has to find a way to bring reality back into her life before she can progress with living. Through prolonged exposure to Jamie, however, Nina realises that he wasn't quite as perfect as her memories of him had suggested...and gradually begins to move on with her life once more.
Truly Madly Deeply belongs to a tradition of films that deal with ghosts returning to benignly haunt their loved ones (of which Ghost is one of the more mainstream examples). It's an introspective piece, filled with emotion, wit and overall charm. It's not a fast-paced film; don't expect car chases or even rapid development of the plot. Instead it builds up slowly and softly so you feel the truth of the characters' feelings and understand their behaviour. Our belief in the characters and their situation are proof of Minghella's writing skill, which adds a layer of realism to a film dealing with supernatural themes.
After several years of writing scripts for the BBC, Anthony Minghella leapt at the chance to direct a script of his own and the result is Truly Madly Deeply. His direction is skilful here and hints at what was to come with The English Patient and his other films. Truly Madly Deeply was made with a miniscule budget and 28 days of filming. Rickman and Stevenson are both excellent actors and in top form in this film and it's great to see Rickman as a romantic lead. While Rickman brings gruff affection to his portrayal of Jamie, Stevenson fills Nina with a vulnerable charm. Michael Maloney also performs well as the new man in Nina's life, despite having to look fairly dowdy in this role. The other performers (including Bill Paterson) add humour and humanity to the storyline, peppering the main plot with witty dialogue and surrounding Nina with warmth.
The picture quality is not exactly wonderful throughout the film, although there's a certain softness about it that seems to work with the story. Dark colours are occasionally a little too dark and lose some of the definition in many scenes – this is especially true of some of the indoor shots. Outdoor scenes are sometimes at the other extreme, a little too light and almost washed out. There's also some intermittent graininess.
The sound is Dolby Digital Surround and it's a nice clean transfer, dialogue is clear and background sounds and music stay where they should. There's a lot of music in the film (Jamie is an expert cellist and Nina plays piano) and at times you wish for a 5.1 soundtrack, but alas, it's not there.
Before the menu screen loads, there's an option of English or French and this is one of the better extras! It's a pretty basic disc here: the film, some subtitles and the choice of an English or French soundtrack. The only real extra is the original trailer and although it's nice to see it here, it would also have been nice to have some more extras, especially a documentary or commentary. It's worth noting that the Region 1 version of this DVD does have a commentary by Minghella and also a video interview with the director included, so if these things are important to you it might be worth searching out the R1 version of the film instead of this one.
Truly Madly Deeply is a lovely film which deals with an intensely emotional situation in a very human manner. The writing and acting work well together and create a great sense of charm and reality for the storyline. This DVD release is pretty much a bare-bones one, but at least it's selling for a relatively cheap price, not masquerading as a special edition. I'd like to think that everyone could appreciate this film, but I imagine for some it's just a little too slow, a little too romantic and perhaps a little too serious, but personally I recommend it highly.
Last updated: 12/05/2018 22:26:21