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Monday, April 28, 2014

My 40 Favorite Films of the 90's - 32 - The Truman Show (1998)

The Truman Show (1993; Paramount Pictures)
The Truman Show
Director: Peter Weir
Writer: Andrew Niccol
Starring: Jim Carrey, Ed Harris, Laura Linney, Noah Emmerich

Before 1998, I do not think anybody would have thought that Jim Carrey star in a film that would be nominated for multiple Academy Awards.  The Truman Show, however, was Carrey’s chance to prove that not only could he act, but he could act in a great film and still bring his trademark energy and cheer to the role.  This is a film about a man who discovers everything he ever knew was a fabrication, a design by a few people, and a man who sees himself as “the Creator”.  It is an incredibly complex idea built on a far-fetched, but still somewhat believable, premise.

Truman was born on live TV.  He was adopted before birth to become the subject of a television show that would document his entire life in real time.  A massive town was created, with everyone but Truman in on the act.  Myths and lies were made upon which his entire life was built and the show went so far as to have his father “killed off” to make him afraid of water, as the set is built inside one of the largest structures ever created.  Truman’s world is a perfect one, where everyone knows and loves him and his happiness is a comfort for his millions of viewers, even if he does not know he is being watched.  However, as an adult, his adventurousness and restlessness get the better of him and, after a series of events that cause him to become more than a little paranoid, he begins to discover the truth about his whole life.

Jim Carrey gives one of his best performances here as a kindhearted man living a carefree existence.  Carrey’s bright smile and warmth really shine through here as all of his previous films more or less required him to subdue those traits.  Here, however, he is completely and totally convincing as a once-oblivious man faced with a shocking reality.

The Truman Show is a must-see for all movie fans, casual or otherwise.  The film is funny, smart and existential and it has a great screenplay.  Ed Harris gives an awesome supporting performance as Cristof, the director of The Truman Show, a man obsessed with Truman but, whose career depends on the show’s continued run, yet seems to also care at the same time.  I see Christof as the idea of a deity, one being who can control the world of any man.  He is dichotomous, both moral and immoral, selfish and selfless, and his actions are both reprehensible and fathomable.  

How far will one man go to preserve his legacy?  If you have lived your whole life in utter comfort only to find it was a fabrication, would you reject it to embrace freedom?  The Truman Show is a social experiment and a smart idea written and filmed with love and patience.  It is allegorical.  Escaping slavery to embrace the responsibility of freedom.  It is an astounding concept, but this is not a fast comedy romp.  It is a deliberate light drama and a movie that lets us really get to know Truman as a character before his world crumbles around him.  It is definitely a journey that everyone should experience.

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