one of Shadows' all-time best films The Truman Show


Truman Burbank (Carrey) greets the day in his continuously cheery town of Seahaven ... and the day greets him back.
dir Peter Weir; scr Andrew Niccol
with Jim Carrey, Laura Linney, Ed Harris, Noah Emmerich, Natascha McElhone, Holland Taylor, Paul Giamatti, Adam Tomei, Harry Shearer, Una Damon, Brian Delate, Charles Grodin
Paramount 98/US 5 out of 5 stars
Review by Rich Cline
There's nothing particularly original about the idea behind this film; it's almost impossible not to feel like you're the centre of the universe, that the whole world revolves around you and everyone exists merely to make your life experience what it is. But The Truman Show approaches this in such an original way that it's bound to become a film classic. It's hard to imagine how Niccol's brilliant screenplay could have been realised on the big screen any better--it must have been a daunting task. But Weir went for broke, and the result is quite simply astounding ... and refreshingly free of overblown Hollywood hokum (which weakened the vaguely similar Forrest Gump).

Truman Burbank's entire life has been a continuous TV series, from the moment he was born until now, just before his 30th birthday. But Truman (Carrey) doesn't know that everyone he has ever known is an actor--his Donna Reed-like wife Meryl (Linney), best friend Marlon (Emmerich), mother (Tayler). He doesn't realise that a vast production company headed by the god-like series creator Christof (Harris) is producing everything he sees--news headlines, weather, traffic patterns, accidents. And he's certainly unaware that his is the most famous face on the planet. Then little things start to alert him to the larger reality, and he goes on a quest to find the truth.

The film works because everyone is utterly committed to its premise. Weir fills the screen with little details that make it breathtakingly fun to watch, from hidden camera angles to hilarious product placement to searing irony. And the actors are well up to the task. Linney and Emmerich are superb, letting glimpses of the actors seep into their "performances". And in a rare serious role, Carrey beautifully captures the shadow that drifts over Truman's joie de vivre. He makes Truman's quest utterly real, so the audience joins his frustration and near madness. But the real winner here is Harris, who turns Christof into an even more complex version of the character he played in Apollo 13. Does Christof love Truman like a son or think of him only as a commodity, a ratings winner? And just how far is he willing to go with his "divine" power? This is where the film really sings, where it leaps off the screen to say something powerful and unexpected. Bravo to Weir and Niccol for having the nerve to avoid big sentimentality in lieu of something much more intriguing and vital.

[PG-adult themes] 16.Jun.98
US release 5 Jun 98; UK release 9 Oct 98

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"Hooray for Hollywood! Finally, an original idea, well conceived and well played. 'The Truman Show' may borrow familiar themes from classic stories, but I enjoyed feeling like I was actually seeing something for the first time, not being sure which way the story was going to unfold next. Peter Weir aptly and gently handled a bittersweet story with a '90s twist of a world within a world. Ed Harris was fascinating as a powerful villain, yet a victim of his own creation, as Christoff; I actually felt sorry for him. I won't go so far as to nominate Jim Carrey for an Oscar; He played Truman well, and is growing as an actor, but still lacks subtlety in portraying some of Truman's more poignant emotions (he may have taken too many classes in the Robert Sean Leonard School of Overacting), but does an otherwise outstanding job of balancing humor/goofiness with frustration, determination and spirit. Seeing 'Titanic' once was definitely enough for me, but I have a feeling I'll be seeing 'The Truman Show' again (and again?). Truman is truly terrific!" --Jen P, Los Angeles.

"I am a fan of Jim Carrey movies such as Liar Liar and The Mask. When he combines humour with a serious plot, he really can act - at least in my humble opinion, he makes me FEEL, and that is my definition of really acting. This movie is a totally original plot. It opens with 'The Truman Show' starring Truman as himself. You are gradually allowed to see how the show is set up, and learn that Truman was adopted by a corporation with the idea that people would want to watch a program on 24 hours a day about someone in an idealized community - the plot is even orchestrated to make Truman (Carrey) terrified of water, so he won't leave the island. We are shown the huge bio-dome, enclosing the largest TV set in the world, visible from outer space. However, a snag occurs when Truman sees his long-lost dead 'father'. The audience is shown how some people have attempted to infiltrate the set and inform Truman that his life is an act - but security guards always whisk the invader away. Meanwhile, there was a girl - and Truman can't forget her. He was told she moved, when in fact she was cut out because she tried to convince Truman that he was an act. So on the outside, she has created a 'Free Truman' campaign. Then a camera falls from the 'sky'. A very original plot, and an entertaining movie - go see it." --Laurie T, Minneapolis.

"Now here is one worth watching. I plan to see it again. My friend and I went to see it in Edina, a suburb of the Twin Cities that's like a copy of the 'Truman' set. It was very eerie to come out of the theatre and be in Seahaven. A very interesting idea and well done. 'Cue the Sun' is my favorite line. I was sad though that there wasn't more of the production side of the story. Ed Harris' character was the most interesting one in the show--and there wasn't enough of him. I LOVED how it ended. Terrific!" --Becky O, Minneapolis.

"Saw it last week and really enjoyed it, although I do feel my enjoyment was a bit dimmed by all the hype surrounding it. I kept thinking how delightful it would have been to have 'discovered' this film before the critics started drooling over it." --Nina W, Minneapolis.

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1998 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall