UK movie (1990 tvm, later released theatrically). Samuel Goldwyn/BBC Films. Pr Robert Cooper. Exec pr Mark Shivas. Dir Anthony Minghella. Vfx Ian Legg. Screenplay Minghella. Starring Michael Maloney (Mark), Bill Paterson (Sandy), Alan Rickman (Jamie), Christopher Róźycki (Titus), Juliet Stevenson (Nina). 103 mins. Colour.
Superficially a Ghost Story, this is primarily a movie about loss, and about coping with it. Translator Nina, recently bereaved of lover Jamie, is inconsolable. Yet, despite her self-absorption, friends rally round, each having a loss of their own to cope with. Then Jamie's Ghost comes back to live with her, their relationship picking up where it left off, and with refreshing lack of sentiment: they tease and grump about each other as if merely continuing a long-running and much-loved conversation. But, after he's fed her inward-focused grief for some while, things begin to sour between them. Her growing attraction towards chance-encountered amateur conjurer Mark is enough to make Nina realize she must end the relationship with Jamie, this time on her own terms rather than his.
It would be facile to regard TMD as a fantasy of Perception. Jamie's ghost is not merely a projection of Nina's grief: we see too much through his eyes for him to be other than an independent character. Yet TMD, released theatrically to cash in on the success of Ghost (1990), must have proved disappointing for admirers of the latter seeking further glitz: it abjures spfx except once – when Nina first meets Mark and he conjures a book into a pigeon, a feat that we are left to believe may be real Magic – relying instead on its script, some fine performances, perfectly measured timing, and the overall excellence of its direction. [JG]