Since my fellow Criminal Minds have already done such a great job with this week’s question, I’m going address last week’s topic – my favorite ghost. For me, it’s Alan Rickman’s character Jamie in “Truly, Madly, Deeply,” writer-director Anthony Minghella’s 1991 British romantic comedy.
In the film, Nina (played by Juliet Stephenson) is in abject grief over the death of her husband Jamie, a cellist. Jamie miraculously appears (or at least seems to appear) in her London flat, but there are no spectral apparitions, haunting cries or anything like that. Instead, Jamie is very much like he was when he was alive, just slightly more annoying and with some new friends in tow.
After the initial excitement at reuniting with her dead husband subsides, they settle into a routine, as with any marriage of the living, the dead, or both. Jamie starts to bring his new friends over to the flat, a motley assortment of fellow ghosts who seem to have bonded over their shared love of cinema. Nina’s living room becomes a repertory screening room and she is forced into the role of ghost hostess.
If I were a ghost who couldn’t fully experience the physical world, then I’d probably watch an inordinate number of movies, too. I mean, I do that anyway, and I’m not even a ghost. [Note: if I were to program a ghost film festival, I think I would choose Wim Wenders’ “Wings of Desire” (for its poignant meditation on what it means to be on the outside of life looking in) and “The Godfather Part II” (because it’s awesome and stands up to endless viewing).]
Jamie, who died from complications arising from a cold, insists on having the heat in the apartment turned up to stifling levels. He moves the furniture around to accommodate his friends. Nina begins to put Jamie's memory in perspective and starts to emerge from her grief. She returns to her job and even meets a nice, living guy. I think you can probably sketch out the rest of the plot arc from there.
“Truly, Madly, Deeply” is a rom-com, not my favorite genre by a long shot, but it’s literate and well-acted, with one of Rickman’s best performances. What stuck in my mind was the movie's droll and understated treatment of the whole ghost thing. Rickman’s Jamie is what I imagine ghosts would really be like if they existed – unwelcome and vaguely irritating houseguests looking for a little entertainment to get through the afterlife, preferably something from the Criterion Collection.