Magic and Loss

With Sandra Hebron at the London film festival's opening night galaI’ve just come back from the Hot Docs press conference and learned that Anthony Minghella has died. This breaks my heart a little bit.

Minghella made one of the finest romances of the 1990s — and no, I don’t mean “The English Patient”, though that was an entirely decent picture. I’m talking about “Truly Madly Deeply”, a piercing little drama about grief, loss and self-sacrifice that grows only more powerful with multiple viewings.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Minghella twice, when he came to Toronto on the promotional tours for “The Talented Mr. Ripley” and “Cold Mountain”. And “pleasure” is the operative word; he was a genuine, generous man who seemed to really enjoy trading theories about what his films meant, and whether he’d succeeded in getting his ideas through the screen. And he had a terrific laugh.

He appears, very briefly, as a television interviewer at the end of “Atonement”; it’s director Joe Wright’s attempt to imply an endorsement of his wholesale appropriation of the grandeur of Minghella’s “The English Patient”. Whether that was Minghella’s intention, I can’t say; I’d hoped to ask him about it at the London film festival last year — I knew he’d give me an honest answer — but our paths never quite crossed.

Damn it. Damn it, damn it, damn it.

If you haven’t seen “Truly Madly Deeply”, find it and watch it tonight. I can almost guarantee you have nothing better to do.

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