Director: Peter Weir
Stars: Jim Carrey, Ed Harris
Released: 9th October 1998 (UK)
Imagine you are the most recognisable star in the world, with millions of people watching you religiously and yet you are completely unaware. This is the life led by Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) An insurance salesman, who disovers that he is the star of a TV show that has followed him his entire life.
Through the early 90’s, Jim Carrey had established himself as one of the hottest comedy actors in Hollywood. Successes with Dumb and Dumber, The Mask and Ace Ventura led the sought-after actor onto Peter Weir’s The Truman Show.
After starting to suspect that everything in his life is not as it seems, Truman uncovers the truth that his life is entirely staged, filled with actors portraying his closest friends, family and work collegues and controlled by the Director, Christof (Ed Harris). This leads Truman onto a journey of self-discovery as the world watches on in anticipation.
Testing Carrey’s talents, The Truman Show required a delicate mix of humour and heart. Carrey’s portrayal as Truman is the key to the film, creating a persona that leaves the viewer (of the movie and the TV show) rooting for him to discover the truth and escape to live his own life. Harris’ character Christoph comes across as botha controlling Editor and almost father-like figure for Truman, having watched and taken care of him his entire life. It’s this depth of character, at times caring for Truman, yet willing to risk his happiness, freedom and life in order to keep people watching his show.
The supporting cast provide the moral conflict that reflect the viewers own, namely Christoph’s control room directors, played by Paul Giamatti and Adam Tomei, who originally happy to work on the show, become increasingly troubled by Christoph’s intensity and increasing desire to deny Truman the truth about his life. They become the conscience that Christoph chooses to ignore.
Criticised for it’s implausibility, it’s perhaps easy to understand why some find this film too far fetched. However, if you’re willing to adopt the mindset that you always should with movies, the suspension of reality, then it’s a thoroughly enjoyable film. Looking deeper, it can be compared to real-life shows and a ‘Big Brother’ culture, posing the question, would you watch this kind of show if it was on our TV’s? Would you want the star of the show to know their whole life had been staged?
Nominated for three Oscars including Best Director, Original Screenplay and Supporting Actor for Harris, it’s little surprise that The Truman Show is highly regarded by many and considered one of the best ‘feel-good films’. Emotional and entertaining at the same time, The Truman Show offers far more beneath the surface than you mght expect.