What Truly, Madly, Deeply Taught Me About Writing

I haven’t done one of these posts in a while, but they’re a lot of fun, so I thought I’d share what Truly, Madly, Deeply has taught me about writing.

Now, this is an odd post because I’m not sure how many people are familiar with this film. But if you haven’t seen it, you should. I’ve heard it called the British equivalent to Ghost…I can understand the comparison, though in my opinion this movie is about a thousand times better!

A quick summary without giving away the whole story (Spoiler alert-sort of): Nina (played by Juliet Stevenson) is a widow. Her husband, Jamie (played by Alan Rickman), has died, and Nina’s life is a mess. She’s sad, lonely, and doesn’t know how to keep living. But then, suddenly, Jamie is back…his ghost appears in her flat, and it’s a miracle. Only, things get complicated pretty quickly…Jamie is solid and can touch her, kiss her, etc., but he’s still a ghost, which means he can’t exist in a normal way. Plus, just around the time Jamie comes back, Nina meets Mark (played by Michael Maloney), a quirky, sweet man Nina starts to have feelings for.

It’s a brilliant film, beautiful, funny, and sad. It’s actually the only movie I’ve ever watched where I cried more the second time around!

So anyways, here is what Truly, Madly, Deeply has taught me about writing.

Real Emotion Isn’t Always Pretty

Okay, so this is something I already know, but Truly, Madly, Deeply shows the truth of this idea better than any movie I’ve seen. People are not perfect. We’re flawed, and sometimes, we look/act in ridiculous ways. I think books are getting better at portraying this, but there are still a lot of stories out there with Hollywood perfect scenes or “adorkable” characters that are awkward, but only in a super-cute way. Sometimes, this is fine. There is a time and a place for perfect. But emotion–all emotion–can be glorious, honest, and still awkward or uncomfortable.

This idea can be seen throughout Truly, Madly, Deeply. When Nina is missing Jamie, she has therapy sessions in which she screams and cries and gasps with uncontrollable despair. When Nina’s sister suggests taking Jamie’s cello for her son (Nina’s nephew), Nina overreacts, getting upset not just with her sister but also with her young nephew. And even after Jamie is back, Nina still gets annoyed with him when it becomes obvious that his presence is a constant one, and she can no longer even take a bath without the possibility of him appearing out of thin air next to the tub.

Of course, my favourite display of emotion in this film is when Nina and Jamie are together, singing and playing. The expression of true love is wonderful, but still, Nina looks more or less like a lovesick, hyper fool running around the flat. It’s honest, a bit awkward, and just lovely.

There Doesn’t Have To Be A Bad Guy

Some stories need a struggle between good and bad. But it’s not always a mandatory ingredient for a fantastic story. Nina has two leading men in her life during this tale…and they are both genuinely great individuals. They both care deeply for Nina…they both cherish her uniqueness, her charms, and her flaws. There is also a supporting cast full of nice, friendly people who love Nina and who Nina loves in turn. Real life doesn’t always involve enemies, and this movie shows how a story can be amazing without an evil presence.

Sometimes The Best Way To Diffuse Tension Is With Something Completely Unexpected

I won’t say much about this one. Instead of heroic confrontations or clever quips, sometimes the best way to get out of an argument is to be surprising, and sweet. Just watch the clip!

So those are a few of the things Truly, Madly, Deeply has taught me about writing.

One Response so far.

  1. cleemckenzie says:
    These are two of my favorite actors, so together the film had a head start to be a hit. It was and I think I'll see it again. Thanks for reminding me.

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