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MGM Studios DVD presents
Truly Madly Deeply (1991)

"I can't believe I have a bunch of dead people watching videos in my living room."
- Nina (Juliet Stevensen)

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: November 20, 2001

Stars: Alan Rickman, Juliet Stevensen
Other Stars: Bill Patterson, Michael Maloney
Director: Anthony Minghella

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: PG for (mild language)
Run Time: 01h:46m:49s
Release Date: December 26, 2001
UPC: 027616869562
Genre: romantic comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ B+BB- B

DVD Review

Before Anthony Minghella had his Oscar ® —winning breakthrough with The English Patient, he directed Truly Madly Deeply. He'd been a successful playwright and writer for the BBC for several years, but he jumped at the chance to direct a script of his own. The result was an intensely personal film—theoretically a romantic comedy—but one with a raw, emotional center.

Nina (Stevenson) is a young woman having trouble dealing with the sudden loss of her husband, Jamie (Rickman). She can't seem to cope with her loss. So when Jamie returns, albeit in ghostly form, Nina is overjoyed. But all is not perfect. She has her beloved back, yes, but he's brought back some friends—all of them eager to rearrange her furniture and watch videos all night long ("Hey, the tape that says it has Manhattan on it, isn't Manhattan."). Life grows all the more complicated when Nina meets someone new, a kind man who has one up on Jamie: he's alive.

The set-up is ripe for comic situations, and the film is funny, in a dry, droll, British way. But it's not the kind of movie that evokes belly laughs, perhaps because of the questions at its heart—is Jamie back because he loved Nina too much to let her go, or has he returned to let her know that he loves her so much, he must? Many people have an idealistic idea of love, a notion that it exists beyond the boundaries of the mortal coil. Truly Madly Deeply recognizes the reality of the emotion. People grow in and out of love, outgrow relationships—sometimes for the best.

Minghella's direction is strong, but not particularly flashy. He explains in the commentary that the film was shot in 28 days on a miniscule budget, and the short schedule is sometimes evident on screen with continuity problems or uneven pacing. But the overall result is surprisingly engaging, balancing well the conflicting tones of drama and comedy.

Rickman and Stevenson are two legendary British stage actors, and both are in top form here. Rickman is rarely cast as the romantic lead, but the unconventional casting works, and he brings a gruff, boorish, yet affectionate quality to his portrayal that is essential to the character. Stevenson is simply amazing, and I believe she would've garnered more acclaim for her role had the film done more business on this side of the Atlantic. She's got a charm about her, and a sense of vulnerability, and is consistently amusing to watch. But she has several emotional breakdown scenes that are almost painful to watch, moments of blended grief and anger.

Minghella notes that Truly Madly Deeply is sometimes shown to people in therapy, those trying to deal with the death of a loved one. It's not often that a film can move an audience profoundly, but this one has its very vocal fans.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: OAR (original aspect ratio) purists, relax. This transfer isn't, as some sites have reported it, open-matte. Anthony Minghella confirms, on the commentary, that 1.33:1 is the proper aspect ratio. It was shot on 16mm, and suffers from the deficiencies of that film format. Blacks aren't very deep, and darker scenes show a bit of grain. The picture is somewhat soft overall, with only a fair amount of fine detail. Colors look a bit dull. I noted no instances of artifacting, edge enhancement, or aliasing. Not an impressive transfer overall, but considering the source material, it looks fine.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoSpanish, Frenchyes
DS 2.0Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Truly Madly Deeply has received a fairly standard 2.0 mix. Everything is confined to the front soundstage, with virtually no surround use evident. Dialogue sounds only fair: a bit flat in some scenes, overly harsh in others. The music is, for the most part, well placed in the mix, but here and there it became overpowering (though it never interfered with dialogue). Once again, nothing special, but surely adequate for the film.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish, French with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring DVD promos for The Princess Bride, Fiddler on the Roof
1 Documentaries
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director Anthony Minghella
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extras Review: Anyone who has heard the commentary on The Talented Mr. Ripley knows that director Anthony Minghella is fascinating to listen to. Here, he once again provides one of the most consistently interesting, humorous, and insightful commentary tracks I have yet heard. He spends equal time discussing the genesis of the script, its personal nature, how he became involved with the actors, and the overall themes he was trying to work in. He also has some funny stories about Truly Madly Deeply devotees.

Surprisingly, even after 100 minutes of commentary, Minghella still has more to say about the film. The Spirit of Cowardice is a roughly 26-minute video interview with the director. There is no overlap at all with the commentary, and there are plenty more interesting nuggets of information in this segment. I was expecting the near half-hour piece to drag, but it never did.

Rounding out the disc is a trailer for Truly Madly Deeply, along with DVD promos for The Princess Bride: SE and Fiddler on the Roof: SE

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

Truly Madly Deeply is a bittersweet comedy romantic, dryly humorous and therapeutic. Alternately lightweight and realistic, with flashes of raw emotion, it's a little film that deserves to be seen. MGM has done a wonderful job creating a special edition DVD (even if it doesn't say so on the label). Recommended.

 


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