The Truman Show

The Truman Show

****

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

It is difficult to discuss The Truman Show without risking disclosure. Surprises of this magnitude are like discovering your mother is a cauliflower. Anyone who remembers Capricorn One will understand. Those who don't, should not attempt to find out. Be like Truman Burbank. Blissful and unaware.

He is 30, married to Meryl (Laura Linney), a nurse, living on the island of Seahaven in what appears to be perfect harmony. The 'burbs are clean and freshly painted and people wave and call "Hello" in the street. It could be the Fifties. Or Anytime.

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He has a job as an insurance salesman. He is H.A.P.P.Y. Except he can't forget Lauren (Natascha McElhone). He can't forget his father, either, who drowned in a boating accident when Truman was a boy. As a result, he's terrified of water and won't use the ferry, won't leave the island. He loved Lauren. She was different. She had an energy that belonged to a rebel spirit, but also to something else. Was it passion? She tried to persuade him to run away. She said stuff he didn't understand, about people watching and things not being real. She was sent to Fiji. She disappeared. Suddenly.

Meryl is nice. She always has a smile on her face. Marlon (Noah Emmerich) is nice, too. Whenever Truman's feeling low, he appears at the door with a six pack and they hunker down and shoot the breeze. Marlon has been Truman's best friend since as long as they can remember. He's always there when needed. He's dependable, like Meryl. Is everyone?

Truman begins to notice that familiarity has a pattern, like the same people walk down the same streets at the same time every day. He imagines he sees his dead dad in a crowd, dressed as a bum. He can't stop thinking of Lauren. He plans to escape. He hoards travel brochures of Fiji. You might suspect he was on the verge of a nervous breakdown, if such a thing existed in Seahaven. It doesn't. Therefore he isn't. He begins to behave like a character in someone else's movie.

Peter Weir has created a working world, influenced by Norman Rockwell, inhabited by Central Casting. The concept is a practical joke. Or is it? Doubts arising from the question suggest an alternative universe, as if nothing is and everything might be.

Jim Carrey throws off his clownish mannerisms and gives a sympathetic performance of a naive man discovering a little knowledge. He could so easily have milked the humour. He doesn't. He plays for real. This is a new departure for him and it works wonderfully. The Carrey/Truman bond is essential for high ratings. Pick up your FREE TRUMAN BURBANK badge on the way out. Showbiz Rules OK?

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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The Truman Show packshot
Happiness is a man made creation.
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Director: Peter Weir

Writer: Andrew Niccol

Starring: Jim Carrey, Laura Linney, Noah Emmerich, Natascha McElhone, Holland Taylor, Brian Delate, Blair Slater, Peter Krause, Heidi Schanz, Ron Taylor, Don Taylor

Year: 1998

Runtime: 103 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US

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