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MAY 24th Release, 1991, Truly, Madly, Deeply

May 24, 2009


I actually wrote this review in 1999…but found it the other day in a stack of decided–why not post it! I see a million problems with it now, but at the time got an A for it. Ha.

Our limited vision in life forces us to believe that death is a closed door. A loved one dies and we call it losing them, almost as if life were a game that we had a chance of winning. The film, Truly, Madly, Deeply, lets us peek into one woman’s grief-stricken heartache and wonder with her, what would it be like if the ones who left us could come back?

Nina (Juliet Stevenson), rambles through her daily life just waiting for the moments when memories of her lost Jamie overtake her. The grief never subsides for a year but then one day it pays off. Jamie (Alan Rickman) comes back to her in all his ghostly splendor. Yet, Nina soon begins to recall all the faults of Jamie she had let fade from her memory. In her sorrow, she had put him on a pedestal that he never belonged on and his coming back forced her to see him realistically. But unbeknownst to her, this is his intention so that she can begin to move forward.

In the humanist approach to film criticism, one looks at the themes and emotional responses of a film and applies them to daily life. A critic seeks to point out how the film can help a person understant his or her own emotions in any given situation. If you take Nina’s circumstances, you would like find someone you know that had gone through a similiar grieving process, maybe even you. Most likely, the person they longed for did not come back, but something helped to stop drowning in the memories of the past.

That same something also led you upward to the surface of your future. Perhaps you could not find the right words to understand how you healed from your grief. Perhaps you had not healed and then saw this film. Maybe through the story, or through Stevenson’s acting, you could heal just a bit. Maybe you could connect with the pain. As with any film, there is a lesson lurking in the lines of the picture. Watching what Nina learns, allows you to reflect on why you hold your own past so tightly, and how to hopefully move past.

More so than just connecting with the pain or the character, perhaps the film can help you to identify your own emotions. Watching Nina struggly with her sorrow can lead you to tears, but are you really crying for her? Or are you crying because the pain on screen reflects your own pain? Maybe it lets you break down your own barriers and mourn your own “Jamie.”

Critiquing a film from the humanist perspective really doesn’t allow for a judgement call on whether the film is good or bad, but instead lets you focus on how you identify with the human experience implied on the celluloid. Perhaps by looking a little deeper into each film, you can find something that will bring all of us one step closer to defining what it means to be human.

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