Peter Weir’s The Truman Show is a remarkably layered achievement: a deceptively simple fairy tale; a hilariously subversive satire of media excess and the erosion of privacy; a sly exploration of the paranoid, solipsistic fear that the world around one is somehow staged for one’s benefit and everyone else is in on it; and finally an elegant parable about truth and happiness with evocative religious resonances.
Jim Carrey stretches beyond his usual rubber-faced comedy for a more meaningful seriocomic role in a Jimmy Stewart mode. He plays Truman Burbank, a man who begins to question his seemingly idyllic but static life after a stage light marked “Sirius (9 Canis Major)” crashes to earth in front of his house one morning.
What Truman doesn’t know is that he’s both the victim of a massive hoax and the star of an obsessively popular 24-hour TV show — a prescient blend of “Candid Camera” and the “reality TV” frenzy that hit about two years after the film. Truman’s whole world is a giant sound stage, and everyone else — Truman’s wife, his best friend, his neighbors and coworkers — is acting. Only he is real.
The show is masterminded by “Christof” (Ed Harris), a TV impresario with a serious God complex (“Cue the sun”) who believes he’s created a better world for Truman. The imagery of the film’s final act is suggestive an anti-religious parable about rejecting God — though a fleeting climactic prayer to the real God offered on Truman’s behalf suggests that the target is not God, but his presumptuous imitators.
Copyright © 2000– Steven D. Greydanus. All rights reserved.