Ghost (1990)

Truly Madly Deeply (1990)

I first saw Ghost and Truly Madly Deeply in high school. I still remember how deeply and tragically romantic Ghost seemed to me back then. The quest for justice and the show of love beyond the grave moved my teenage self very much. In contrast, Truly Madly Deeply struck me as an interesting story but failed to appeal quite as much. The characters seemed more ordinary, and there was no epic battle between good and evil for me to sink my teeth into – though it did have that glorious cello scene(just watch the movie – I dare you not to be moved at that part).

In Ghost, successful banker Sam gets killed during what appears to be a mugging. His girlfriend Molly is devastated, but has no idea that Sam can still visit her life. She cannot see or hear him until he communicates with her through medium Ona May. Molly’s life is in danger and though Ona May, Sam tries to protect her. At heart, Ghost is something of a thriller, but there is a very strong romance worked in throughout the story. Sam and Molly have glorious chemistry and even though the story is a little simplistic, the actors all carry it off well.

Truly Madly Deeply is a little more subtle. There’s not really much by way of mystery or action here. In fact, very little exists to pull viewers away from the story of Nina striving to recover from the loss of her beloved Jamie. While we don’t see Jamie’s death onscreen, Nina talks about it, at one point sobbing and wondering aloud why someone would die of “a sore throat”. As the movie begins, it’s obvious that Nina has let her home and her life go since Jamie died. Jamie comes back, however, in a very moving scene. Unlike in Ghost, Nina can see him and talk to him. Interestingly, Nina finds herself reunited not just with her favorite aspects of Jamie but with all his flaws as well – and various entertaining ghost guests who show up in her home and provide quirky comic relief.

It had been a while since I had seen either movie, but I recently watched Truly Madly Deeply with a friend, and discovered a whole new appreciation for it. As a fifteen-year-old, I had missed its subtleties, and the swings between tragedy and humor in this story did not strike me so poignantly. There is a reality to Nina’s grief that is not glamorous at all, but instead feel painfully real. The loss of Jamie feels senseless and very raw as we watch Nina grieving.

I was curious to see how Ghost held up. I still enjoyed this movie, but I couldn’t help noticing how the emotions in the film cut so much less deeply for me. The main couple is more Hollywood-perfect than Nina and Jamie out in the suburbs of London, and while it was obvious Molly missed Sam terribly, the viewer never gets to see her grief, warts and all. Still, even though this story lacks subtlety in some ways, Sam and Molly still have great chemistry onscreen and that really makes the movie work.

At the end of it all, though, Molly has still lost Sam and she seems somewhat left in limbo. One could walk away from the movie thinking that Molly will simply stay there in her apartment working with clay and missing Sam forever. Jamie, on the other hand, helps Nina move on. As Truly Madly Deeply comes to an end, there is no doubt that Nina is claiming her life again – and doing so with Jamie’s blessing. In addition to being a hopeful ending, it struck me as the ultimate selfless, loving attitude on Jamie’s part.

If you haven’t seen these movies, I would definitely recommend them to you. And I’m curious to see how the romance in each film strikes you. They both have their great moments, but I have to say that I am now more of a Truly Madly Deeply fan. The acting is fabulous, and something about it just strikes me as being beautiful and hopeful.

-Lynn Spencer