The Truman Show

Film: The Truman Show (1998)
Director: Peter Weir
Starring: Jim Carrey
RUNTIME: 103 Mins
review: lev harris
Rating: *****

Adam Sandler in Punch-Drunk Love. Will Ferrell in Stranger than Fiction. Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind. All have left their slapstick roots and have moved their talent towards more meaningful dramedies. Yet in Carrey’s case, the common assumption of Eternal Sunshine as being his transitional movie would be misleading. The Truman Show, in the wake of low brow flicks such as Ace Ventura and The Mask, is Carrey’s real masterpiece: a profound and thought-provoking parable that comments on the control of mass-media as well as the meaning of life.

Carrey plays Truman Burbank, a man who lives a perfectly normal life in a perfectly normal neighbourhood, until one day he discovers that he is part of a one-man TV show. It has been screened all over the world 24 hours a day since the day of his birth, and the whole world and life that he has constructed for himself is completely fabricated. Countless themes take sideswipes at American society, not least the obsession with television and celebrity culture, the insatiable need for private details of ordinary lives, as well as religious allegories. Some viewed Truman’s world as a metaphor for Eden in reverse – the creator of the show, Christof is given a God-like omniscient power.

Carrey’s performance is gut-wrenching; we all pine for him to escape the world of his egocentric creator. If you need any more proof as to how affecting this film is, in 2008, five people were diagnosed with schizophrenia, who believed that they too were part of a reality TV show. One believed that 9/11 was an elaborate plot twist as part of his own show. Now that’s powerful stuff.

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