Re-Watch: The Truman Show (1998)

The Truman Show
Director: Peter Weir
Writer: Andrew Niccol
Cast: Jim Carrey, Laura Linney, Noah Emmerich, Natascha McElhone, Ed Harris, Paul Giamatti
Seen on: 8.3.2016

Truman (Jim Carrey) is living an absolutely ordinary life as an insurance salesman in a small town. His wife Meryl (Laura Linney) is a nurse and they are reasonably happy together and may have children soon. So far, so good. What Truman doesn’t know is that Meryl’s name is actually Hannah Gill. She’s an actress and he is the star of a reality TV show that has been chronicling his life since birth. Everything around him is TV – everything but Truman. Bit by bit, though, things are falling apart and Truman is starting to doubt.

It’s been years, probably a decade, that I saw The Truman Show and while the technology has changed a lot in that time, the film is still remarkably current. Plus, it is simply a good film.

thetrumanshow[SPOILERS follow]

When The Truman Show first came out, it felt almost prophetic. It was only a year later that Big Brother started which is probably still the closest thing that we have to Truman’s situation. By now with the technological advances, people have started chronicling their own lives almost as closely as Truman’s life is watched on the show. How interesting it would be to remake the film with today’s technology in mind (or maybe make a sequel?) – although it would be hard to match the quality of this one.

Speaking of sequels – I was convinced that I remembered Truman on the outside of his TV bubble, catching up with his mystery woman. But the film ends with him leaving and we don’t see any more. Maybe I was melting it together with Edtv, maybe I had continued the story in my head so much when I watched it as a teenager that it became the film for me. In any case I have a surprisingly clear picture of what happens after Truman leaves.

thetrumanshow1Jim Carrey is great as Truman. Still funny, but not as overwrought as his usual roles and it helps to show that he can actually act. Laura Linney (and her advertising) is a delight as usual. And Ed Harris is great as Christof – a character that pushes the film from simply examining voyeurism to asking big questions about how much art is allowed to do and how much the artist owns his creation – or how much of his creation is actually created by him and not by the people he works with.

All of that makes The Truman Show a funny and smart film. It has permeated pop culture so much that it may lost a little of its punch, but there is still enough of a punch left to watch it again.

thetrumanshow2Summarizing: A modern classic.

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