Spoiler Warning – Massive spoilers ahead for The Truman Show
The Truman Show is a brilliant film. A short review but it gets to the point. In our difficult to socialise times, I have watched a number of old movies and decided to rewatch this film, which I hadn’t watched in years, and loved it as much as I ever did.
Jim Carrey plays Truman Burbank – a man who was adopted by a television company as a baby and has been filmed and broadcast to the world for just about every moment of his life. Everyone around him is an actor and the world as he knows it is completely controlled by the show’s director, Christof. Truman knows none of this and thinks he has a perfectly normal life. At the start of the film, events take a turn that lead Truman to suspect that there is something wrong with the world and he begins to pick at some of the loose threads of this reality.
Jim Carrey’s Performance
When I saw The Truman Show, Jim Carrey was the guy from The Mask and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, a super over the top turned up to eleven comic actor and, at the time, I really liked that Jim Carrey. I daresay Jim Carrey’s involvement was what first made me want to see The Truman Show. Carrey’s performance was not only brilliant, it was surprising, I simply did not know this was something he could do. At times Carrey’s performance is genuinely heartbreaking. Memorable scenes are those of his young romance with one of the extras who tried to tell him the truth, to the conquering his phobia of the water to sail away from his fake home, to his final confrontation with Christof. There are a few moments of Carrey breaking out his wilder side, when Truman is realising something is wrong, and as we can probably assume this is him in the middle of a nervous breakdown it makes perfect sense. The fact that Jim Carrey was not even nominated for an Oscar has gone down in history as a famous “Oscar snub”.
After this film, Carrey would be considered a very talented actor – adept with comedy and drama, giving equally sensational performances in Man On The Moon and Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, whilst remaining a regular comedic actor.
And Laura Linney’s For That Matter…
While we’re talking about acting a quick note on Laura Linney, who played Truman’s wife (or rather the actor playing Truman’s wife). I had never picked up before just how sinister a character she is, more than any of the other actors she is tasked with keeping Truman in the dark – with the possible exception of the actors who played his parents. She undermines his confidence, she plays on his fears and while many of the actors and those making the show are lying to Truman many seem to have some kind of affection for him – not so much with Linney’s character.
The show is hugely popular around the world and the film has a great deal of fun dealing with this and how the set works. There are legions of actors who simply exist to make it seem like a real town or the “adverts” that exist in the show – Laura Linney is fantastic at talking to Truman about new products like she’s in a commercial. We do see a number of people watching the show; there is a Truman bar that screens it non-stop, and the final third of the film has a lot of shots of people simply reacting to Truman’s escape attempt. Those watching are shown to be ecstatic when he does escape – one viewer is watching in the bath and as Truman’s boat is nearly capsized his frantic clinging to his shower curtain is amazing. Of course, there is the massive problem of the show’s audience – we are meant to see Truman as a prisoner, someone who has suffered, those watching the show have kept him in that prison.
The Truman Show came out in 1998, just around the time reality television was really taking off. Obviously The Truman Show’s premise is a lot darker than actual reality television (well, most of it) the question of what an audience will watch for entertainment and ignore any associated moral problems is more relevant now than ever. The show’s director, Christof, passionately defends what he has done to Truman but even in the most benevolent light he has done terrible things to him – manufacturing phobias, killing Truman’s family members, regularly placing Truman in stressful situations. In the film, the show is a huge worldwide success, more than justifying the huge cost of making it, and it is a genuinely interesting question – would this show be popular in real-life?
Relevance To Me
I saw this film as a child when it first came out and it is very important to me. Before The Truman Show most of my favourite films were silly comedies and action/scifi blockbusters – this was one of the very first films I loved that could be called a “drama”. Now, there’s nothing wrong with silly comedies and blockbusters but that’s not all there is. The film, in an odd way, taught me something about myself. I saw the film at the cinema on the weekend, on Monday morning I was back in school and we were discussing what we did over the weekend. I said I watched The Truman Show and was asked if it was any good. I responded by praising the film in the most eloquent way my teenage self could. What I learned was that it’s not a good thing to like things too much, you’re not meant to love films or be passionate about them, they’re meant to be “okay”. And that could be applied to much of life – it’s just meant to be okay. To be passionate about something is to reveal part of yourself and to make yourself vulnerable – and that is something you should never ever do. Of course, not long after I realised this was nonsense and I embraced my love of films (and more) and my life is infinitely better for it.
And In Case I don’t See Ya, Good Afternoon, Good Evening and Goodnight
This really is an amazing film and would highly recommend it to just about anyone. It has just about everything – great acting across the board, an interesting and original idea, it’s funny, moving and meaningful. It is a film that will actually leave you happy and uplifted after being put through an arduous experience.
Also Read: 1994: The Year of Jim Carrey