103 Min. | Drama | October 1998
IMDB Rating: 8.0
Director: Peter Weir
Staring: Jim Carrey, Ed Harris, Laura Linney
The Truman Show Review: Brilliant, thoughtful director Peter Weir (The Last Wave AKA Black Rain, Picnic at Hanging Rock, Master and Commander, Gallipoli, Dead Poets Society, Fearless and many others) teams up with excellent screenwriter Andrew Niccol and a great cast to give us a science fiction film with a range of emotions exceedingly rare for big budget mainstream cinema. In addition to the really disturbing questions The Truman Show raises about the nature of reality, metaphysics, religion, entertainment, human cruelty, voyeurism, and the concept of freedom, the film also offers a glimpse of humanity simultaneously occupying its worst and best aspects. The cast is phenomenally good. Carrey gives Truman the life his rich and sympathetic character he deserves – providing some of the most disturbing comedy. Tasha McElhone, Ed Harris, Peter Krause and Laura Linney are all excellent – though you may end up hating most of them for various reasons as the film progresses.
In The Truman Show, Truman’s entire life, from his birth onward has been one long TV show. He is literally being broadcast 24/7/365 and he knows nothing of it. His mom, wife, best friend, and everybody around him are all cast members. And the show is shot in a giant set which simulates an island. Because of a traumatic experience with the sea during his childhood, Truman does not feel free to travel away from his island home. Yet Truman is oddly compelled to explore the world and has begun to suspect that something is very wrong. Meanwhile, in what we like to think of as the real world, everybody is watching him. People stay home from work to participate vicariously in his life in hopes that they will somehow catch a clue to “how it will end.” The Truman Show is pretty heavy. You might find it amusing the first time you watch it, but once you’ve allowed it to exhaust you a few times, all that is left is the superb craft and the intense and disturbing ideas it constantly bombards you with.
The Truman Show has a dark side and a hopeful, light (but never airy) side which – amazingly – is exposed concurrently with the heavy stuff. The cinematography is as picture-perfect as most of the work Weir is associated with. The acting is remarkably good all around, with those mentioned above in the outstanding roles. Sound is usually a very important component of Weir’s films, but it’s a little underexploited in the Truman Show – perhaps to (sometimes with painful force) draw the audience’s attention to the profoundly insane dialog. The Truman Show is plot heavy, heavy, a little funny, and profoundly smart. Do not see it under the influence of anything detrimental to your mind or emotional balance.