This imaginative romantic comedy (released in 1991) was recently deceased director Anthony Minghella’s first film. It is a terrific film, starring theatrically-trained actors: Juliet Stevenson, Alan Rickman, and Michael Maloney. Minghella also did commentary for this film; he admits that he was a technical novice, but relied on a team of experts. Most of this team continued on to work with the director on other films, including The English Patient and The Talented Mr. Ripley. Truly Madly Deeply involves Minghella’s interests, friends, and sensibilities.
Plot & Characterization
Nina (Juliet Stevenson- Mrs. Elton in Emma; Keira Knightley’s mom in Bend it Like Beckham) is a charming, intelligent woman (around 30) who works at a language institute in North London. (Nina is fluent in Spanish.) Her boss/friend (Scottish actor Bill Patterson; he’s in Amazing Grace) is worried about her because she’s “not having any fun” these days. Her older sister is worried because Nina’s flat (or “apartment” as we say in the US) is falling apart and has a mouse (yikes!) She shrugs off their concerns.
Nina meets regularly with a therapist because she is having a very difficult time getting over the recent death of her (cellist) husband, Jamie (Alan Rickman from Robin Hood– note the mustache- and Sense and Sensibility). She is sad, but also angry, as is revealed in a very intense scene. (Juliet Stevenson is not afraid to reveal messy emotions.) Nina busies herself with repairs on her flat with help from a romantic Polish immigrant (Titus). Then one day, Jamie appears in the living room!
Jamie is not like other movie ghosts you may’ve seen. He complains constantly about it being freezing cold in the flat; Alan Rickman chose to wear a long black overcoat the entire time. He invites other ghosts (from various time periods) to watch classic films, play music, and redecorate Nina’s place.
Getting off the bus one day, Nina runs into Mark (a man who she saw at a local restaurant). She decides to go out with this (real life) man. Check out Truly Madly Deeply to find out what happens next!
Visually, there are no tricks or bells, but the acting is superb! Even the small parts are done very well. Minghella points out that these actors aren’t the “typical romantic leads.” Stevenson and Rickman (who worked together before) have the kind of chemistry and comfort with each other that can’t be faked. Nina and Jamie seem like a real, passionate couple with a shared history. From the moment he meets Nina, there is a twinkle in Maloney’s eyes- we know that Mark is interested in her. I especially liked how the two men were quite different: Mark is positive and smiling, while Jamie is sullen and intense. Will Nina choose to live life again or remain in the past?