Film review: The Truman Show (1998), directed by Peter Weir
Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) lives an ordinary life in an ordinary little seaside town. Everything’s perfect. He has a wife (Laura Linney), a job, and things couldn’t be better.
Except everything Truman has ever known is a lie.
His whole life is like an episode of Big Brother – he’s followed by cameras everywhere and everyone he thinks he knows is an actor. The only person who has no idea his entire life is a soap opera is Truman himself, and the TV company behind it are trying their darnedest to keep it that way.
The audience around the world have followed Truman from infancy to adulthood, but eventually even Truman starts to realise there are cracks in the perfect facade.
Currently hogging the 211th spot on IMDb’s Top 250 list, the story of Truman can’t really fail to capture your imagination. Big Brother is a well-known TV show around the globe, and The Truman Show puts a spin on it by having the star of the show not realising his life is orchestrated by a production team (Ed Harris, Paul Giamatti, et al), and always has been.
What does it say about the audience, who for the most part aren’t willing to speak out against it? Nearly everyone will tune in to see what’s happening today in Truman’s life, as if it’s not a real person they’re watching. This, I find intriguing.
Truman is a nice guy and it seems as if Jim Carrey has had to restrain himself to not get carried away with the sort of antics we’d expect of the roles he normally plays. This is a good thing. After all, he’s not a bad actor, just that he has a tendency to go completely over the top if given half a chance. There are some Carrey-esque bits here too, don’t get me wrong, but it works.
I once decided that I like Peter Weir’s films, because I hadn’t seen one I didn’t like (which at the time was … two?) and because the cast interviews on the Dead Poets Society DVD really impressed me. Now, every time the info button says a film was directed by Peter Weir, I have to watch it on principle. After all, I have decided he makes great films. The Truman Show has not made me re-think this flimsily obtained impression. If Peter Weir made the film, it probably means I’ll like it.
The Truman Show is warm and kind, yet ruthless and cruel. But it’s good, and it poses a lot of interesting questions, such as “what if someone really did decide to make a show like this? I wouldn’t put it past them.” For that reason, I think this film is a success, even if most of it might be forgettable as a whole – the important parts still stay with you.
4.2 out of 5 hidden cameras.