I return to the science fiction and fantasy genre in the Great Movies – 100 Years of Film book for the last time. The final film in this chapter is the previously reviewed The Matrix, and so, moving onto the list of recommendations following that, The Truman Show is the first one listed I hadn’t reviewed before.
Reality television, as fake as it is, seems to be everywhere, it’s a cheap way to get ratings because production costs are very controllable. They also happen to be so inane that they’ve never held my attention.
The Truman Show plays off the reality television angle, as the film follows the titular Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey in one of his first dramatic turns) an insurance adjuster, who slowly discovers that his entire life may be fodder for viewing audiences, and that everyone around him may be playing a part.
Behind the scenes Christof (Ed Harris) is overseeing everything as the series creator and director, and he seems unable to control things as Truman begins to fathom what is really going on when a spot light (that serves as a star) plummets to his street.
The film brings into question a number of things, like the nature of reality, as well as the roles of the people involved in Truman’s life, particularly the woman who plays his wife Meryl (Laura Linney) – they’ve been living as man and wife, but she’s playing a role.
There is product placement and hidden cameras everywhere as Truman goes about his day to day. He is also hard at work, keeping something secret from everyone as he tries to track down a woman named Lauren (Natasha McElhone) who was on the show and was written out and sent to ‘Fiji’ after it was discovered the two of them were attracted to one another and she tried to warn Truman what was going on.
I remember seeing this when it first came out, and being a little disappointed in it. It wasn’t as funny as I thought it should be, mainly because it was advertised that way to cash in on Carrey’s comedic name. I recall walking out at the end and thinking it was good, but hadn’t been what I wanted.
This time I enjoyed it so much more. There is a lot going on in this film, and I really like the way it all comes together. And that is due in large part not only to the performances and the story, but the director, Peter Weir.
Weir has a solid collection of films under his belt, and this one is probably, on reflection, now one of my favourites and it’s amazing how increasingly relevant the story has become over the years since its release.
And as a fun closing note, watch for Paul Giamatti has a bit of a supporting role in this one!