THE TRUMAN SHOW
The central premise in The Truman Show is that Jim Carrey makes the discovery that his entire life is part of a tv show that is being scripted and played out by the people around him for a watching audience of billions. One is not spoiling any big surprise by telling this as the films publicity machine makes one aware of this from the start. Half the fun in the film comes from its setting up Jim Carreys idyllic lifestyle and then letting us watching the subtle intrusions the tv show make into the familiarity of its reality a crowd crossing the street suddenly freezing as a feedback whine jams their earpieces; people contriving to twist situations so they can stop and conduct product endorsements or push Jim Carrey into shot up against advertising billboards; the marvellous little excuses that keep getting invented every time something goes wrong or Carrey tries to leave the town there is an hilarious visit to a travel agents office where the background is filled with travel posters that instead of offering invitations to sunny destinations advertise in the direst tones possible the hazards of travel. The film even starts to cleverly play with audience perceptions what one takes to be a standard musical score playing throughout is revealed as being played by background musicians; or the moment the heros best friend makes a heartfelt plea Would I lie to you? and the film pulls away to reveal this as a scripted line being fed into an earpiece. Most of the shots in the film mimic the camera shots of reality tv shows. Even the opening credits are for the tv show rather than for the film.
In The Truman Show, Peter Weir became the first director to tone down and obtain a relatively sane performance out of Jim Carrey. All of Jim Carreys previous films The Mask (1994), The Cable Guy (1996), Liar Liar (1997) and the Ace Ventura movies were founded as veritable amphitheatres for Carreys rafter-rattling histrionics. The Truman Show came about at a point when Carrey seemed to be making an effort to establish himself as a serious actor, with variable results, in the likes of Man on the Moon (1999), The Majestic (2001), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) and The Number 23 (2007). Peter Weir was the first director to tone Jim Carreys irritatingly loud facial gymnastics down and allow the story on its own to carry the film. One cannot help but think a more average-seeming performer might have been better suited to the film but Carrey acquits himself capably upon this occasion although ironically only by failing to dominate the film.
The conceptual audacity of both Gattaca and The Truman Show show Andrew Niccol as one of the most promising young writers around at the moment. Niccol has the ability of all good science-fiction writers to construct scenarios that are extrapolated from a single What If premise how would a genetic dropout survive in a world founded on genetic purity? what if a man found his entire life was being staged as a tv show? and to work the premises to thoroughly logical conclusions. In both cases, Niccol creates heroes whose entire struggles centre on having to outwit and subvert an entire social order that is set against them. Niccol went somewhat astray with his next genre directorial outing S1m0ne (2002), a comedy about a virtual Hollywood actress, but regained form with the excellent non-genre Lord of War (2005), a biting satire about the international arms trade and returned to science-fiction with In Time (2011), The Host (2013) and Anon (2018), as well as the non-genre Good Kill (2014) about modern drone warfare.
Australian director Peter Weir is mostly known for acclaimed mainstream works such as Gallipoli (1981), The Year of Living Dangerously (1983), Witness (1985), The Mosquito Coast (1986), Dead Poets Society (1989), Green Card (1990), Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003) and The Way Back (2010). During his earlier years in Australia, Weir made a number of fine forays into the genre with the bizarre The Cars That Ate Paris (1974) set in a town where the locals subsist by causing car crashes; the superb unexplained disappearance film The Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975); the eerie Aboriginal prophecy film The Last Wave (1977); and The Plumber (1978) about a sinister handyman.
(Winner in this sites Top 10 Films of 1998 list. Winner for Best Supporting Actor (Ed Harris) and Nominee for Best Director (Peter Weir), Best Original Screenplay, Best Musical Score and Best Production Design at this sites Best of 1998 Awards).