Truly, Madly, Thursday

We dig deep for another Quarantine Pick O'the Day

I dug deep into the archives for today’s film.

We’re at that point. Anyone can just point you at the stuff that is easily available on the major streaming services, and there are literally dozens of new podcasts and regular articles that point out every single film of any note that is either added to those services or dropped from them.

I’m going to just recommend movies for you at this point. How you find them is your business. There are too many great films out there and my interests aren’t necessarily in sync with the rights deals that Netflix or Hulu or Amazon Prime happens to have made at the moment.

Today, I was in a mood. I sometimes just miss a filmmaker or an actor, and one of the things that absolutely rules about movies is the way you can drop back into someone’s past even though they’re already gone and catch them preserved at their very best. For example, I was missing both Anthony Minghella and Alan Rickman, which means today’s movie could only be one thing, the underrated Truly, Madly, Deeply.

What’s that, you ask? Well, you remember Ghost? Of course you do. Everyone remembers Ghost. Ghost was a monster hit the year it came out and it became iconic and everyone in the world remembers the pottery scene and it made Demi Moore into a giant star and congratulations to everyone involved. What I remember is that because of Ghost, no one I told about Truly, Madly, Deeply seemed interested at all. They would all say the exact same thing when I described it. “Oh… it’s like Ghost?”

No. Not, it is not. It’s the story of Nina, a woman who is struggling with the loss of her boyfriend Jamie. He died suddenly, and she’s angry. She’s built walls around herself so no one can get in to help her, and she’s also built Jamie up in her head as this perfect person, this loss she will never ever get past. When Jamie reappears to her, it seems perfect. She doesn’t need anyone else, and she retreats even further. It’s everything she wanted, delivered to her so she never needs to move on.

But what this film gets right is the danger that is built into that wish. Grief is a terrible, powerful thing, and it lands in your life like a bomb. Anyone, given the chance to have the person they lost back in their life, would take it. But you can’t do that. You can’t just live in those memories forever. At some point, you have to start to build your new life. You have to be able to move on. The danger is turning someone into a saint in your memory is that you’ll never be able to see a new person as equal or worthy. You have to remember them as they really were. That’s important.

I’ve been very lucky in this later portion of my life. My girlfriend of five years is, without question, the love of my life. Until this relationship, I didn’t really know how to be a good partner to someone. I didn’t know how to see the entire person, and part of that was because no one ever loved me that way. It can be transformative to have someone see the ugliest corners of you and embrace that part of you anyway. It can change the way you live when you don’t have to protect yourself at all around someone. Truly, Madly, Deeply is wise about the realities of love and the importance of going through every part of grief. It is a beautiful film, and Alan Rickman is at his absolute best here as Jamie. He’s great in the early stages, when he gets to be this idealized perfect wonderful person, and then he’s even better as he slowly reveals all the things that made Jamie human. The film’s really a duet between Rickman and Juliet Stevenson as Nina, and they’re both so good at charting the precise places they are in this process. It’s one of those movies that I love when I see it, but I love it even more in memory and when I think about it. Breaking it out for the first time in a while this morning was wonderful, and while I definitely scratched that itch that drove me to pick the film in the first place, I can’t say I miss Minghella or Rickman any less.

Here’s the full list of QPODs for you so far:

Hairspray (2007)
Mars Attacks!
Cinema Paradiso
The Black Stallion
Fighting With My Family
Jiro Dreams of Sushi
¡Three Amigos!
Tucker: The Man and His Dream
The Cotton Club: Encore

Tomorrow’s the Friday Snapshot, and it feels strange to me to just soldier on like normal. I’m working on my books right now, but also on something I’ve been promising you for a while. I don’t think I’ve ever wrestled more in print with my feelings on a single film than I have with my feelings on Rise Of Skywalker, but I’ve almost got the fucking thing pinned to the ground at this point. All of this is keeping me sane, and offering up a few special free issues for people during all of this feels like a small thing I can do to contribute to the positive rather than just wallow in the negative.

Stay sane. Stay healthy. See you guys tomorrow.

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Image courtesy BBC Films