The Truman Show
Dir: Peter Wier
Star: Jim Carrey, Laura Linney, Noah Emmerich, Natascha McElhone, Ed Harris
Cert / Year: PG / 1998
Format: DVD R2

Truman Burbank has been on television all of his life, the only thing is he doesn't know it yet.

Truman Burbank's (Jim Carrey) whole life, unbeknown to him, has been televised. He is the star of the Truman Show the ultimate in reality television shows. He has been raised in the idilic town of Sea haven, which in reality is a giant film set built inside a massive artificial dome (at last a use for the Millennium Dome). His whole environment, including the weather, is control by the shows creator Christof (Ed Harris) and his team. They introduce characters and plot lines into Truman's life as if it were a soap opera, but things are not going well for them as due to a number of accidents Truman is beginning to suspect that there is something wrong with his life. Despite reassurances from his best fried Marlon (Noah Emmerich), the breakdown of his on screen wife Meryl (Laura Linney) leads him towards the truth. Will he be reunited his true love Lauren (Natascha McElhone), or will Christof ensure that the whole of his life is televised? There is only one way to find out, and that is to watch the Truman Show.

This is one of the most brilliantly original films to come out of Hollywood in the recent years. It is a damning indictment of the current trends in television (Big Brother style reality television taken to its ultimate conclusion). It is an intelligent and witty piece of drama, but above all of this it is massively entertaining.

Lets take a look at why. Firstly we have the direction of Peter Wier (Witness, Picnic at Hanging Rock) who has used a brilliant selection of techniques that make this film work. Every time that we see Truman we are actually watching the Truman Show. This is achieved by the use of odd camera angles, fish eye lens effects, and shots supposedly from behind one way glass. The overall effect is stunning. It draws the audience in and leaves you in no doubt that we are actually watching a person that is begin unwitting filmed, and that we are really watching the same television show as the viewers in the film. This so easily could have gone very wrong, with the result that we would be just left confused.

Many other neat tricks are used on top of this including the synchronisation of extras so that they look like extras. I can't believe that this would have been easy, as filmmakers for the whole of their lives have been trying to achieve the exact opposite. The response of the Truman Show viewers is also used to great effect, as we get to see what a consistent few viewers think about what we ourselves are watching. I really could go on all day extolling the virtues of the direction and scripting techniques used, but its suffice to say that it really is top class.

This leads me to the impressive script written by Andrew Niccol (Gattaca). The dialogue is intelligent and original. The way in which only Truman is allowed to make decisions and the other cast members are appearing to ad-lib is well implemented. It questions our love of television and just how far should we go in the name of entertainment. That's not to say it is serious, far from it there are many moments of gentle comedy. What is most impressive is the fact that it never has to result to extremes to get its message across (no violence, no sex, or much swearing for that matter).

A special mention must be made of Burkhart von Dallwitz's (Supernova) music score, which compliments the action perfectly. It is rare that a score is integrated with a script quite so seamlessly.

The biggest surprise of all is Jim Carrey. He is well known for his madcap, zany, OTT, comedies, and people either love him or hate him. What he is not known for is subtlety, and here he is a revelation. He is fantastic, delivering a performance of a lifetime, and with a great deal of acting talent (maybe he should try it more often). The supporting cast are also faultless, especially Laura Linney who convincingly falls apart on screen desperately relying on product placement in an attempt to deal with Truman. It is a rare pleasure to say that all of the cast, from main stars, to the extras do a fine job and are faultless.

As you can tell I really rate the Truman Show. It is a film that can be enjoyed by anyone, and in repeated viewings many subtleties can be uncovered. If I have any criticism it would be that it is a little lightweight and maybe a little too sweet (although this is intentionally so!), but this a very minor consideration. In an age of remakes, sequels, and special effect movies the Truman Show is head and shoulders above the rest.

Watch the Truman Show, everyone else is. Oh one last thing, in case I don't see you, good afternoon, good evening, and good night.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Picture 1.85:1 Anamorphic outstanding picture
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 Strong but not much asked of it
Features Trailers
Verdict Where are the extras? For a classic film like this it's criminal.

Rating: 1 out of 5

Reviewed by Glitz Back Top Home