Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from David of That Moment In. Thanks for the review, David! 🙂 Now let’s see what he has to say about The Truman Show, IMDB rank 215 out of 250…
There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.
Director: Peter Weir
Writer: Andrew Niccol
Stars: Jim Carrey, Ed Harris, Laura Linney
These days, in most cities and towns, avoiding being filmed is next to impossible. We are so used to it now, that we rarely give it a second thought. CCTV cameras line every street, shop and restaurant recording us from every angle. We could probably make a movie about our lives just by going outside. For Truman Burbank though, someone already is.
Chosen before he was even born, Truman (Jim Carrey) was selected as the first 24-hour-a-day star of a TV reality show, creatively named The Truman Show. The brainchild of eccentric film maker Christof (Ed Harris), the show is an international phenomenon and been on the air for 30 years, documenting every aspect of the man’s life. And what life he’s had. Or rather not had. Christof has carefully orchestrated the world Truman has been living in, guiding the young impressionable mind as a child to remain content with his neighborhood and fearful of the world beyond. That included “killing” his father in a boating accident, an incident so traumatic, Truman can’t go near the water. This is just one of many tricks employed against Truman to keep him where he is.
There are other things that stand out for us, but less so for a man who’s grown up in a sanitized, near perfectly planned environment, which is the greatest set in television history. Everyone in Seahaven (the community Truman lives in) is an actor and they are all in on the con. Truman is married to the wholesome Meryl (Laura Linney), who is eternally chirpy and always within reach of a product to suggest they try, making sure the label and name are clearly visible for the watching audience. This is one of the film’s major conceits, that Truman is the spectacle but we are the consumers.
Like anyone, things nag at us, and for Truman it is the same. But lately, things have become increasingly curious. A large studio light falls from the sky and crashes on the road in front of Truman. It’s quickly covered up by a radio broadcast talking about an aircraft in trouble, which also help maintain the fear of flying already implanted in his mind (Travel agencies feature posters of airplanes being struck by massive bolts of lightning, claiming THIS COULD HAPPEN TO YOU!). But not long after, while driving into work, the radio catches static and Truman hears the show’s crew tracking Truman’s movements as he approaches. Suspicious. But most troublesome for Truman is Lauren. Lauren, played by Sylvia in the film’s story and by Natascha McElhone in real life, is the love that he was denied. An extra on set, Lauren was never meant to be a regular. From the start, Meryl was cast as the love interest, but this is the thing about love, right? It doesn’t come from casting. It comes naturally, and Lauren overwhelms Truman. Sylvia, though is not happy about Truman’s life and is a member of the “Free Truman” movement which aims to stop the show and the cruelty of the lie. Christof has her removed from the set, forcing her and her “father” to tell Truman her family is moving to Fiji. Truman marries Meryl and life goes on, but secretly, he can’t stop thinking of his one true love. In one of the more revealing moments of the film, we watch as he hides away in the basement thumbing through magazines with pictures of women, cutting out a mouth here, some eyes there and so on. It seems arbitrary at first, and maybe even deviant for a short time until we see that Truman is actually trying to remember Lauren’s face, and is building her piece by piece with the parts of other women. It’s heartbreaking.
This is the path Truman must take. He must discover his situation and then find a way to be free of it. Without that, the story has no meaning. But what’s impressive about this narrative is the way it makes the viewer consider the world beyond the one in the movie. What does it mean to be a star? Not long ago, it took a lot to be famous. Actors, musicians, politicians and criminals; these were the rare persons that found fame, for good or bad. These days, with reality TV, YouTube, the Internet and social networking, going “viral” and more can make anyone famous. Director Weir is keenly aware of this, and the enormous dome that houses Seahaven and Truman could easily be the metaphor of the fish bowl we all live in.
That’s the thing about The Truman Show. It raises questions. But the film is a comedy at heart and has its objective to reach, so does not go to places that would make this a truly defining film. Take Meryl, for instance, as the girlfriend first and eventually the wife. How far does she, as a hired actress, go to play the part? Do she and Truman have sex? If so, is it broadcast? How private is Truman’s life? How much will a television audience want to see? Exploring these and more would have taken The Truman Show in a different direction, naturally, but since they are never addressed, it seems like a lost opportunity, and kind of a cheat.
That is not to say the movie lacks depth, because that would be a mistake. Both Christof and Truman are exceptionally rich characters and Ed Harris and Jim Carrey are astounding in their roles. Christof in not a cold person, but the show is a product and the ratings are the heart. Without Truman, his world collapses, an empire he’s built for thirty years. Likewise, Truman is a child, no matter his age. His experiences are real to him, but they are aseptic, manufactured, free of conflict. There is a palpable father/son relationship in their design, but more like a god and that god’s subject just beginning to question its existence.
Weir’s bigger message may be directed at the viewer, and one perhaps lost in the art of the film’s presentation. How closely do we really know our own world? How much do we take for granted? Life is a continuous stream of peripheral activity that goes invariably unchecked. How much of it should we question? Truman starts to see oddities, and because he doesn’t know anything but what he’s been presented, his questions are weak and with no frame of reference. Imagine that it began to rain only on you and nobody else. What do you think it could mean? A miracle perhaps? This is a dilemma Truman must face.
And this is really all about him. Truman is a wonderful character. He’s honest, sensitive, inquisitive, and because we know his situation, he’s also sympathetic. We want to see him win. There is tremendous joy in watching his discovery. Throughout the movie, we see the audience of the show and given a glimpse into how Truman has impacted many personally. Some wear buttons and have posters that read, “How’s it going end?” We may think we get an answer to that question, when the time comes, but in truth, that answer is not so clear. Where is Truman now?