The Truman Show
starring Jim Carrey
When I first heard about The Truman Show, close to two years, it sounded like an elaboration of the Scorsesee film, The King of Comedy. I imagined the main character was so deluded that he believed his every moment was photographed; a perpetual television show. It turns out I had things backwards. Truman
Burbank (Jim Carrey) thinks he is living a perfectly normal life, but in fact everything around him is fake. There is no way to approach this material without acknowledging that his life really is a movie or a TV show.
In the 30th year of Truman’s life/TV show, he is finally getting a strong belief that things are not right. A series of small gaffes and goofups clue Truman in that things are not for real. Everyone is an actor in his life. Truman’s life is a charade, and he literally can’t escape, because Cristof (Ed Harris) won’t let him. Cristof is the creator/author/god of Truman’s life/show, and the one who controls everything in Truman’s domed city, Seahaven (filmed in the real life planned community of Seaside on Florida’s panhandle).
I saw The Truman Show twice, once over a month ago, and again just before writing this review. In the space of that time, an enormous amount of advance hyperbole has been generated about this film, mostly by respected journalists from national magazines. It really hasn’t altered my feeling about the film. The Truman Show is an ambitious and exciting concept, courageously executed but almost completely ruined by its ending. In fact, its final line is so cheap and unnecessary, you almost feel embarrassed for having watched at all.
That aside, The Truman Show is a good film, but one that must surmount an enormous hurdle; the audience’s expectations of what a Jim Carrey movie is. Throughout much of this film, you can almost feel the audience’s collective yearning to laugh at every meager opportunity. Jim Carrey has completely given
himself over to the director, Peter Weir. Carrey remains completely in character in service to the story. Carrey’s performance is world class and definitely worthy of an Oscar nomination, which could hardly be said of Dumb and Dumber. I have been a fan of Jim Carrey’s warped child appeal. His need to please has spawned an all-consuming perfectionism.
How do we gauge a film that takes a lot risks with a lot at stake? You give it extra credit, but you’ll judge it differently based on your point of view. If you want a good laugh, you won’t like this film. You will like
it if you are ready to accept Carrey in a challenging, expressive role. The film does benefit from a second viewing, and the viewer’s ability to filter out some of the underlying cynicism surrounding an innocent and likable character. I recommend this to a discriminating audience, not the multitude looking for the next Ace Ventura.