Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Truman Show.

The Truman Show, directed by Peter Weir, is undoubtedly one of the best films ever made. Released in 1998, it tells the story of Truman Burbank, a man with a seemingly-happy life in suburban America, who discovers his life has been carefully constructed and manipulated, and that he is part of a TV show, broadcasted worldwide. His wife, friends, and apparent family are all actors, the island on which he lives is a set, where even the sunrises and sunsets are digitally controlled.

Jim Carrey establishes himself in this film as a brilliant actor, one whose talents are not just confined to facial contortions and slapstick comedy. Indeed, his portrayal of the man who finds his life to be a public spectacle is astonishingly good. Carrey outdoes himself with a stunning and thought-provoking performance, and I found it hard to identify him with the same actor who played Stanley Ipkiss in The Mask, and the animal-lover in the Ace Ventura movies. Those who think that Carrey cannot carry off serious roles should watch this. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind wouldn't be a bad choice either.

Truman's character development is flawless- a light falling from the sky, a distorted radio message, and an accidental look at what appears to be a lift- all raise his suspicions, and he finally realises that his life has been part of a TV show for 30 years.

Laura Linney, who plays his wife, is outstanding as well. Her performance is one that suggests depth- as Truman starts to realise his life is not what it is, her smile gets wider, her consolations more desperate- as an actress, as part of the TV show, she does not want the elaborate lie to be exposed.

Ed Harris plays Christof, the man who has conceptualised the TV show that Truman is part of. He is the master, whereas Truman is the puppet. Harris portrays Christof as a man characterised by grim ferocity, and a brutal lack of compassion. Even though his screen-time is much less (it is Carrey who practically holds up the movie), Harris's Oscar nomination is well-deserved. Also, Christof is perhaps a take on God Himself, the Creator- who has made up our world, and watches while we discover ourselves and the many truths that surround us.

The film can be interpreted on many levels. I think, first and foremost, it is a brilliant commentary on the role of the media, and a satiric look at how it controls our lives. There are scenes in The Truman Show where people are shown to be glued to their TV sets, almost having given up their normal activities.

Secondly, it is a jab at the voyeuristic nature present in all of us - the desire to watch another person's life, to look at how he leads it, and to follow his every movement, every thought, and ogle at the intricacies that make up his life.

And third, it is perhaps a look at how fragile our lives are, and how, sometimes, they can be made up of lies. Truman's life is seemingly perfect- he has a good job, friendly neighbours, a pretty wife... Indeed, he seems to be living the American Dream in all its glory- but half an hour into the film, you realise that's not the case at all. He is trapped by a job that he finds dull and boring, his neighbours get on his nerves, his wife is a little too plastic, his thoughts are filled with memories of his ex-girlfriend- and soon enough, Truman realises his entire life is being manipulated.

The Truman Show
has brilliant cinematography- certain camera angles make it seem as if we are watching not just a movie, but Truman's life itself- we are one of the viewers in the movie glued to their TV sets. The soundtrack is good, and the momentum of the movie builds itself up with determination, leading to an absolutely brilliant climax.

The film is dramatic, sincere, and not pretentious in any degree. It's an extraordinary, highly original film that leaves you thinking. And having watched it a decade after it was released, its relevancy is still potent, and its message strikingly clear even in the present day.

It's sad that Carrey didn't even get an Oscar nomination for his acting, but then again- Life Is Beautiful had lost out in the Oscars too. Sometimes, even the best films don't make it, and it's up to the viewers to immortalise them in their own way.

Watch The Truman Show for its unique storyline, its satirical portrayal of media and voyeurism, and lastly, for Carrey's performance. You will not be disappointed. This movie- a political and social allegory, will not let you forget it in a hurry.


storyteller said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
storyteller said...

About the movie yes its pretty amazing,very unique and the actors are really brilliant in their performance.The review is very well written and its very crisp,detailed and sort of really makes one want to watch the movie if one hasnt.I really like this blog of yours,its a very professional outlook to cinema,not too professional since you always add a personal touch to your posts.

supertramp said...

An oscar nomination/award lasts but a few days... The memory of a great film watched remains embedded forever...

It's wonderful how professional your reviews are, and there's not one single spoiler whatsoever! :) Kudos on a blog well written.

Oh and if you like Jim Carrey in serious roles (like I do), I suggest checking out The Number 23

What's In A Name ? said...

Allegory it was and a very strong one at that. The scene where Truman discovers the staircase to the 'real' world through a door on the painted horizon is symbolic of our own papery prisons.

Watch 'The Majestic' and 'The Number 23' for Jim 'The Mask' Carrey's more serious roles.

And regarding Oscars - well, they have been presented to more undeserving films than the truly deserving ones, always. Reference: Slumdog Millionaire's 8.

Your review touched upon the layered teatment of the film.

Magically Bored said...

@ Storyteller: Thank you. :)

@ Supertramp: Thanks. Hehe, I try to keep spoilers out, for prospective viewers. :P
I've seen The Number 23- it's good, has a very comic book feel to it, don't you think? But I think Eternal Sunshine and The Truman Show were better.

@ What's In A Name?: Thanks, and yes, the movie is hugely symbolic. I haven't seen The Majestic, but I am trying to get hold of it.

supertramp said...

@Bored (nice name!) : Ooh yes, The Majestic. It is truly truly awesome! I have it, if you want it!
And yes, The number 23 plays out more like a dark graphic novel, but I loved the sequences! Eternal Sunshine, of course, is simply fantastic, I think.

Sambit said...

jim carrey deserves more credit for the truman show and man on the moon.
watch man on the moon.
it is absolutely amazing.

Magically Bored said...

@ Supertramp: I want to watch The Number 23 again. Have forgotten it all.

@ Sambit: Yes, will try to get hold of that one.

Riddhi G.D said...

Have to watch Man on the moon. This movie is one of my favourites, and your review is bang on :) One wouldn't think that Jim Carrey is such a good actor- and then you come across Eternal Sunshine and The Truman Show

Magically Bored said...

Yes, precisely, that's what I thought too, when I watched this.