by Dave Adamson
Anthony Minghella’s first work is a true masterpiece of emotion, with stunning performances from Alan Rickman and Juliet Stevenson. Presented on DVD, it deserves to be seen again and again.
Made by BBC Films, Truly, Madly, Deeply follows the life of recently widowed Nina, played by Juliet Stevenson, as she copes with the loss of Jamie (Alan Rickman). Returned from “the Other Side”, Jamie and Nina continue their lives seemingly in secret, until a new interest, Mark (Michael Maloney), comes onto the scene and changes what once was, while Nina learns that life goes on and that, with Jamie, she has become a different person.
The strength of the story comes as Nina’s life begins to unravel before being rebuilt. We share in Nina’s heartache, her attempts to venture beyond her self-imposed exile from love and the awkwardness of a new relationship. The interaction between Nina and Jamie is so well observed, from the moment they embrace to the moment they depart, as they explore life (and the afterlife) together as the fantasy of love is replaced by the reality of the relationship.
Minghella’s ability to give raw human emotion to his screenplay, and the actor’s ability to deliver on that beauty, elevates this above what could have been an overly saccharin work, lacing with humour and sadness. His dialogue feels alive; the exchanges are never contrived and each of the characters – from the two leads to the supporting cast, which includes the likes of Bill Paterson and Michael Maloney, amongst other familiar faces – feel like living, breathing people.
With the part written specifically for her, in Stevenson’s performance we get such range, we see her at his lowest, trying to negotiate life whilst handling the pain that she feels as she tackles the despair and elation that life brings. Rickman proves why he would go onto be one of the most respected actors of his generation with an understated, morose performance that contrasts perfectly with the power of emotion that Stevenson brings. It’s impossible to not smile when Rickman and Stevenson perform The Sun Ain’t Going to Shine Anymore, and to be heartbroken as she discusses life without Jamie with her psychiatrist and feel buoyed as a new life begins, even if it means losing what she once loved.
Still a powerful example of Minghella’s work, Truly, Madly, Deeply may feel like a lesser version of the Ghost, but it’s something else entirely. A smaller film that feels much more grounded, Minghella’s debut work still stands the test of time.
The DVD is presented in its original 4:3 ratio with stereo sound and includes an introduction by Anthony Minghella, along with an interview and commentary. It’ll sate the appetite of film lovers to hear him reflect upon his first work, which would go onto win a BAFTA for Best Original Screenplay and see further nominations for Stevenson and Rickman.
Truly, Madly, Deeply is out on DVD now.
Dir: Anthony Minghella
Scr: Anthony Minghella
Cast: Alan Rickman, Juliet Stevenson, Michael Maloney, Bill Paterson
Prd: Robert Cooper, Simon Mills, Mark Shivas
DOP: Remi Adefarasin
Music: Barrington Pheloung
Runtime: 103 mins