Anyone who has had to cope with the death of a loved one should understand the central message of "Truly, Madly, Deeply": Love love, grieve death, and then get on with life.
The film, set in London, is the poignant tale of Nina (Juliet Stevenson), who is unable to cope after the sudden death of her musician lover, Jamie (Alan Rickman).
Nina spends copious time in the posh office of her therapist, crying, raging and grieving--and discussing the possibility that her lover has returned from the dead.
Jamie tells Nina that he has come back to comfort her--"I can't bear to see you in this much pain," he explains--yet as the movie unfolds, it becomes clear that he also has another mission: helping Nina let go of him and start living again.
While this renewed romance with her lover offers comfort and security, Nina also feels unnerved and confused, as if she is living a life somewhere between reality and her past. When she finally meets a man to whom she is attracted, she is ambivalent because of her "relationship" with Jamie.
By now firmly ensconced in Nina's apartment, Jamie brings a group of friends with him from the afterlife--to sit on Nina's couch and watch videos day and night. One morning, when Nina returns to her flat after having helped her friend give birth--and finds her home full of dead people, she understands that it's life that she wants.
Part of the tenderness of the film is watching Jamie grieve: The idea is that the dead grieve, too, and have just as much difficultly adjusting to the sudden loss of a loved one as the person left behind.
The cast is a joy to watch: Stevenson and Rickman are finely matched. Often called the "thinking-man's 'Ghost,' " the film is deeply emotional but provokes thought and real feeling, not just tears.
"Truly, Madly, Deeply," (1990), directed by Anthony Minghella. 107 minutes. Rated R.