The Truman Show (1998)

Genres - Comedy Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Media Satire, Psychological Drama  |   Release Date - Jun 5, 1998 (USA)  |   Run Time - 103 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Recalling such satires of TV mania as Network (1976) and Real Life (1979), Peter Weir's The Truman Show (1998) takes aim at the consumers and creators of the ultimate TV celebrity-victim. Shooting from a number of "hidden camera" angles as Truman Burbank goes about his day, Weir blends the eponymous TV show with the film, complete with a "making of" documentary. With the perfection of the Seahaven "set" evincing a Twilight Zone creepiness, Truman's life is both banal family drama and sitcom, yet the slack-jawed viewers never turn it off; TV mastermind Christof is the deity the audience deserves. As Christof struggles to maintain control once Truman figures out the truth, the limits of Truman's life visualize his existential dilemma as a media-made entity -- and a metaphor for our own imprisonment in a culture defined by media and consumerism. The movie's brutal final image directs its criticisms as much at a passive, sensation-seeking audience as at those who provide the sensations; this cold climax deprives the movie of its potentially happy ending, turning its commentary back on the audience as might a Stanley Kubrick film. Originally written by Andrew Niccol in 1993, the film's critique was rendered all the more timely by such 1990s voyeuristic excesses as afternoon talk shows and MTV's The Real World; Jim Carrey's atypically low-key presence as Truman was in itself a comment on media stardom. A substantial summer hit, The Truman Show received Oscar nominations for Director, Screenplay, and Ed Harris's Machiavellian Christof, while critical kudos affirmed Carrey's dramatic talent.