When he then reminds us that most of us accept the world with which we are presented, we may well feel like banging our heads on the metaphorical wall that separates us from other choices, just as Truman does in his desperate attempt to break out from the choices forced on him.
"The Truman Show" plays to a collective fear of the technostate. If we are chilled by the inhumanity inherent in the technology that is enveloping us, we rarely glimpse and seldom grasp the concept of computer-generated reality. Director Peter Weir takes us into that world.
Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) lives in the perfect community of Seahaven, an island village that advertises itself on its license plates as "a nice place to live." Truman's "nice" life is exactly that: perfect box houses inhabited by smiling people who greet Truman warmly and interact with him mildly. The reality of Seahaven's bloodless life is that it is a TV studio populated entirely by actors whose job it is to interact with the unwitting Truman while their story is broadcast live to an eager world.
The creator of this betrayal is Christof (Ed Harris), a driven director credited with the longest running soap opera in history--10,909 episodes so far--filmed in the largest studio ever constructed. Truman the Innocent has been, from the day of his birth, a human trapped in a world of actors. As Christof says, "No scripts, no cue cards; it's a life, it's genuine. Nothing you see on this show is fake; it is merely controlled."
The lighting of this set is a piece of brilliant fakery that bathes the houses and streets in the harsh white glow of a world's fair village. When errant details begin to attract Truman's attention, he tries to escape the set and can't; he is trapped in Christof's reality. When Truman heads for Chicago, the actor/driver of his bus can't drive; when he tries to drive out of the sphere, he finds a fire in his path. He may have a wife, neighbors, a job, but the one thing he cannot have in this manipulated world is spontaneity. All the actors manage to be appropriately and perfectly fake. Laura Linney is frightening as Truman's wife, the relentlessly cheerful Meryl, whose giant dimples and stiff hair make her nothing more than a breathing doll. Control room technicians greet any victorious manipulation with cheers and high fives. "Great television!"
As the only genuine article in the film, Jim Carrey's manic self is just about right for a man freaking out as he discovers he is the victim of the ultimate betrayal, and Ed Harris's Christof is a magnificent technocreep. But this isn't an actor's movie; it's an idea, a clever extension of things happening in our world right now. Impassioned by his own rhetoric, Christof reassures Truman that "in my world you have nothing to fear; Seahaven is the world as it should be." When he then reminds us that most of us accept the world with which we are presented, we may well feel like banging our heads on the metaphorical wall that separates us from other choices, just as Truman does in his desperate attempt to break out from the choices forced on him.
Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Word Count : 502
Studio : Paramount
Rating : PG
Running Time: 1h44m
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