by Bret W.
Peter Weir, the director of such classics as Gallipoli and Dead Poets Society, astounds us again with the beautifully well-made film about a man who is the center of everyone’s attention and doesn’t know it. Born and raised on camera, Truman has no idea that every able-bodied person in the world has been following his every movement. To him, his life is just a life like any other. He went to school, he made friends, he had girlfriends, he married, he went to work each day and dreamed of better things. Viewers of the show are more like voyeurs than viewers, but their intimate connection with Truman begins and ends with the fact that most of them have grown as Truman has grown, and feel as much a part of his family as his mother, as his wife, as his best friend. And the dream-like quality to Truman’s life reminds one of a real-life commercial for every product imaginable, mostly because the sponsorship of the show pays to have their products displayed prominently in the show at every opportunity.
But Truman is not happy, and is unsure exactly why. His unhappiness began when he met an extra on the show and became intimately involved with her for just a moment, before the show’s creator had her whisked away, never to be seen again. From that time on, Truman had been searching hopelessly for her. Even his marriage could not mar the memory of this woman who touched his life ever so briefly and then was gone. And the more he searched for an answer, the more he touched on the truth, which was exactly what his existence was. In the end he comes face to face with the creator of his show, Cristos who offers him the opportunity to leave the show, and here-in lies the dilemma: leave his whole existence behind or continue to live the lie that is his so called life?
Like The Matrix, The Truman Show says “Question your reality, this could be you.” It leaves nagging doubts in the audience about their own existence. In this, it is an extremely clever film, as well as cleverly made. It’s certainly one of the most creative ventures in the history of film. It’s a metaphor-laden film, especially regarding the ego maniacal Cristos, the “creator” of the show and of Truman’s universe. It lends a metaphorical look at human existence as a whole and asks the question, “Are we merely fodder for the spectators beyond, puppets with our strings pulled and no control over our own direction?”
Also, yet again, it’s another brilliant job of acting that was totally ignored by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Jim Carrey’s performance was brilliant as Truman, the center of his own fabricated universe. Yet it seems that anyone who has ever owned the title of Comedian must act in at least ten serious films before they are even considered for a nomination. Witness the long drought suffered by a very able Robin Williams, who had many Oscar-worthy roles long before he finally won for his supporting role in Good Will Hunting.
The Truman Show is a wonderful film with a tremendous story, entertaining throughout due to the fine direction and visionary genius of Peter Weir, and brilliantly performed by Carrey and his supporting cast. While this film could definitely be classified as a “feel-good” film, it’s much more than that, and it’s an artistic venture well worthy of the price of admission.