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Friday, 1 December 2017

Retro Review: The Truman Show (1998)

The Truman Show
Cast: Jim Carrey, Laura Linney, Noah Emmerich, Natascha McElhone, Holland Taylor, Ed Harris
Genre: Satirical Sci-fi
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $264 million

Plot: An insurance salesman/adjuster discovers his entire life is actually a television show

'Despite Carrey's Showing, This Film Was More Like A No-Show'

A so-called film labelled as a satirical sci-fi, it is neither satirical or sci-fi-ish enough, despite Jim Carrey's impressive showing, The Truman Show doesn't have enough, nor provide enough depth or many watchable scenes in this somewhat ugly view of voyeurism, nor balk in the harsh realities of reality TV, due to the banal and lacklustre direction by Peter Weir. 

Truman Burbank finds himself the unwanted star and centre of attention for millions of viewers around the world of a show titled ''The Truman Show'' that airs 24 Hrs a day and broadcasting his every move, capturing every word he speaks, without his acknowledgement.
Robin Williams was originally considered for the role of Truman Burbank, yet director Peter Weir went with Jim Carrey after Weir saw Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and was left impressed by his improvisational comedy skills. Which is strange considering that Carrey rarely or be it doesn't show glimpses of those skills as his character, Truman, throughout this movie. 

I don't mind Jim Carrey doing serious and dramatic roles, the more the merrier I'd say, but the script for this movie didn't really enable him to stretch his talents. He was solid and effective and he tries his hardest to restrain and tone down his comedic side, but due to the nature of the script, he never gave that astounding performance I'd come to expect. Not only is it based on the 1960s and the setting is the 1960s, it has a '60s feel to it. The problem of this movie lies with the director, Peter Weir; as much as he has directed a couple of critically well-received movies, to me, I find his direction, in general, to be tame and pedestrian. He just was not ideal for this project. Dead Poets Society was only made good due to Robin Williams's performance, who elevated it further, and by taking him away, that movie would be bland as watching paint dry. & here, that same sentiment can be felt with The Truman Show & Jim Carrey. 

Add to that the lack of any genuine light-hearted and humourous scenes, hardly any emotion and a story that wasn't very engrossing, and what you have is a film that truly underwhelms in every major aspect, but for some of the impressive visual effects and 1 or 2 performances. Laura Linney is a huge miscast, I just can't see her pull off the happy- looking fake person routine naturally, whilst Ed Harris fared better here than in Stepmom, which came out in the same year as this film. & even if it had Robin in place of Jim, I still cannot really see The Truman Show be any more entertaining and watchable. Well, not under Peter Weir.

The film didn't spark my interest until the 27 min and I just wasn't able to grasp the story and under a much more capable director than Peter Weir, this would be far more entertaining and insightful as a film. A premise with promising potential as the one in this movie shouldn't be this lethargic and as boring as it is, and yet sadly it is, because of Weir. He's like the duller version of Steven Soderbergh, and I'm not a fan of his work, but for Erin Brockovich

The Truman Show is not terrible and it's not that a lot of what happens doesn't make sense - it's just a frustrating, yet mostly ordinary experience and watching it today I could see how I never latched onto this movie back in 1998, despite all of its plaudits. 

The film bored me until the 55th minute and despite its profoundly overwhelming and popular showing, again it is yet another one of those movies whereby watching it I couldn't understand why it was lauded. For a film that is supposed to dig deep into and explore the concept of reality TV, it ends up saying frankly very little about it. 

Final Verdict:

When Jim Carrey accepted the award for Best Comic Performance of the year for Liar Liar during the 1997 MTV Movie Awards, he thanked his fans by saying ''they have always supported my comedies, but they don't know how to take me in drama''. He showed in Doing Time on Maple Drive, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Man on The Moon how effective he can be as a dramatic actor, but serious roles have been very few and sadly, he just never had more of those bigger and better drama and non-comedic movies that he deserved. 

Those looking for a meatier and edgier movie ought to look elsewhere, and though The Truman Show isn't it and that it could have done with more meatier and edgier moments, it's fair for me to say, it just never blew me away as much as I'd hoped it would do. 

Under Peter Weir's vision, this is a case of all talk, and rarely any substance. 


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