Director: Peter Weir
Writer: Andrew Niccol
Cast: Jim Carrey, Ed Harris, Laura Linney
Storyline: “An insurance salesman/adjuster discovers his entire life is actually a T.V. show.” IMDB
Disposition – I saw this when it originally came out in 1998. At the time I was so used to Jim Carrey starring in movies like “Dumb and Dumber” and “Ace Ventura”, that I never took the “Truman Show” seriously. I never hated the movie, but I never bought into it fully. Now, more than 15 years later, I am excited to watch it again to see if I have a different “feel” for it.
This is a film I have heard of but was never inclined to watch. This came on the back of Jim Carrey’s sweet-spot when he could do no wrong and I guess at the time I was all Carrey-ied out. I’m really looking forward to seeing this film though, especially after the unexpected brilliance of Rosemary’s Baby. Let’s see how this film compares.
Set The Scene
So Brit Boy and I are getting kinda boring here…. We snuggled up on the sofa, with a glass of wine and our big screen tv (granted no 3D this time).
Well as I mentioned before I wasn’t sure which Jim Carrey we were going to get in this film, was it going to be the irritating mania, the extreme gurning or something altogether different? Its just struck me that maybe American Girl does not know what gurning is:
Well it is the act of making a grotesque face, often popular at county fairs.
Jim Carrey in his rubber faced brilliance is quite good at it but I must say it does get quite tiresome. Well anyway back to the film…….
Thanks for your ever enlightening commentary Brit Boy, alas I did not know what gurning was (and apparently spell check doesn’t either)… However, it seems a very accurate description of many of Carrey’s “faces”. I should mention however, this is one of those things that completely turns me off of Carrey, it seems like something my 9-year-old son would do and find hysterical. I guess it is lost on me. I enjoy a realistic dry humor, not a school boy farting and making faces type.
Carrey played the part of Truman Burbank with a lovely hapless and sickly sweet naiveté, something which I wasn’t used to seeing, no gurning, no slapstick and nothing over the top. I’m beginning to like this part of Carrey’s acting, I was obviously not alone in thinking this, as Carrey won a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture for this role.
I must say that I am surprised that Carrey won a Golden Globe for this role. He did a fine job, and his normal exuberance actually seemed to fit perfectly as “Truman”, but there are many actor’s which could have portrayed Truman just as well. What really made Carrey’s performance extraordinary was the audience’s realization of his wide range of ability. All of that being said, I often felt the more emotionally charged points of the film were somewhat lacking. As such, I never fully connected with Truman, and always viewed him as Jim Carrey “playing” Truman, even this many years later. (I felt this same way when I watched Robin Williams play the bad guy in “One Hour Photo”. It doesn’t matter how brilliant Robin Williams is, he would never be a “bad guy” to me.)
American Girl, it is interesting that you mention Robin Williams as he was originally considered for the role, and it was only after Weir saw Ace Ventura : Pet Detective that Jim Carrey was cast (as his performance reminded Weir of Charlie Chaplin).
Truman is a really lovable character and you cannot help fall in love with him and the idyllic location (Seahaven) where he calls home. The simple life which he lives is definitely something which appeals, and at times his unnerving happiness is quite refreshing, nothing phases him. This is completely taken advantage of by the tv company he is living his life in front of, explaining mis-haps in the production of the show with carefully controlled radio broadcasts and media cover-ups.
Ed Harris offered a great supporting character playing Christof the creator of the Truman Show and effectively the forced adopted father of Truman Burbank. I loved the way Christof showed a god like quality and complete ambivalence to what he was putting Truman through, all he cared about was the show and making “good tv”.
The cast was really superb, and I admit many times I thought to myself how nice it would be to live an actual “picture perfect” life. I thought the continuous product placement was hysterical and well done. Every actor portrayed their character perfectly. You loved who you were supposed to love, hated who you were supposed to hate, laughed at who you were supposed to laugh at. Without this all-star level of acting the Truman Show may have fallen flat.
The show has a really interesting premise; a man lives his life unknowingly in front of the cameras, every detail controlled and scripted without his knowledge. My opinion switched quite dramatically throughout the film, from wanting him to remain in blissful ignorance about his life; to that of wanting him to discover the sham his life was. It’s strangely eerie that Big Brother (the tv show) debuted just 1 year after the release of this film. This offers us a complete dichotomy with Truman wanting to live a normal life and the Big Brother contestants craving all that is bad about reality tv and the transitory fame it offers.
You make a really good point here Brit Boy. While I watched the movie (this time), I continually thought about the social implications of reality tv. Granted, when the film was originally released reality tv hadn’t yet fully taken off. I have no doubts that a real-life “Truman Show” would be an international hit, even if completely morally and ethically wrong. In a lot of ways the Truman Show was the first movie to address this issue, more recently addressed of course by the “Hunger Games” series.
I did really like this film and do believe it was well deserving of a place on this list, and is by far and away one of Carrey’s best acting performances. I’m not sure it’s better than Rosemary’s Baby, however I know that these places on the IMDB list are so prone to change that I should probably be comparing it to a film five places above or below this one. I would happily watch this film again and am glad of the lovely escape that it provided.
I did enjoy the film, I was never bored, and wasn’t close to falling asleep (which says a lot for me!). I think it deserves a spot on the list, but more so because it was the first of its kind to address the implications of reality tv, not because it had any lasting impact on me. Honestly, the film probably should have won a “Best Picture” award, than to singularly recognize Carrey and Harris. This movie never would have hit it’s mark without the support of the entire cast.
Footnote – Six Degrees of Sir Richard Attenborough
Sir Richard Attenborough considered Jim Carrey for the role of Charlie Chaplin in “Chaplin” (1992) which eventually went to Robert Downey Jr.