Title: suggested by anonymous.
Title: The Truman Show
Director: Peter Weir
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for thematic elements and mild language
Since 2002, Dr. Joel Gold, an assistant professor of psychiatry at New York University, and his brother, Ian, have been the leading researchers of a rare mental illness that has affected more than forty people in the U.S. and U.K. Patients of this illness range from drug abusers to Army veterans, and the effects range from travelling to a downtown Manhattan federal building for asylum to (almost) climbing the Statue of Liberty for escape (Marantz).
What exactly is this mental illness? The Gold brothers have titled it the “Truman Show delusion” after the majority of their patients explicitly mentioned the film as the origin of these false perceptions or as a medium of relatability (Kershaw). Victims of the Truman Show delusion suffer from a paranoia that there are cameras everywhere filming them and broadcasting them live to a worldwide audience, and the delusion that their relatives and friends are all actors in this 24/7 reality TV show (Kershaw).
Many of these cases point to The Truman Show as either the instigator or endorsement of these thoughts. Maybe because that’s how real and relatable The Truman Show is.
Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) is just a normal guy in a normal town who does normal things. Or so he thinks. Gradually, he discovers odd peculiarities that lead him to believe he’s being filmed 24/7. Jim Carrey’s performance is so winning that you feel like one of those viewers back at home or at a bar rooting for him. Though there is a handful of normal, “in-movie” shots, most of the shots we see are through the show-within-the-show’s perspective. Even the aspect ratio of the film is small at 1.85:1—very close to that of television sets in the 1990s and of most screens today. Note the black bars at the top and bottom of the screen in most movies. Depending on the size of the screen, the bars should be either non-existent or minuscule.
Despite its persuasive use of dramatic irony, The Truman Show could’ve added more to the effect of Truman and his gradual realization of his lie of a life. In probably the second most dramatic scene in the film (second to the finale), Truman recklessly drives around the town with Meryl (Laura Linney), his on-screen wife, and he swells with frightening madness and insanity. Carrey’s performance already gives this scene the skittish, insane vibe it has, but somehow, that scene feels a bit underwhelming. It could be that the scene was too short for the mood to sink in, or the ending with men in biochemical suits surrounding Truman doesn’t seem right for the mood of the scene. Honestly, though, I don’t know what I would do to change this scene; I just know it could’ve gone places that it didn’t.
Regardless, Jim Carrey’s crazed Truman and Laura Linney’s frightened Meryl along with Peter Weir’s hyperventilating camera nail the mood while it lasts, so maybe it evens out. Their collaboration of talents throughout the film highlights Truman’s growth from an ignorant idiot to one who—slight spoiler alert ahead—disobeys “God” at the end. As the film begins, the falsity in all the lies Truman believes to be true are revealed, and it’s hard to resist the urge to scream at his ignorance multiple times throughout the film. But, boy, does the ending satisfy that itch and add to the victorious actions of Truman. Jim Carrey is the star of The Truman Show, but unfortunately, his résumé boasts only a small handful of other good films; we’ll have to take what we can get, I guess. His charm and charisma make Truman so lovable and appealing to both the on-screen audience and real audience. This one’s a crowd-pleaser and a necessity for film fanatics.
Marantz, Andrew. “Unreality Star.” The New Yorker, The New Yorker, 16 Dec. 2014, http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2013/09/16/unreality-star.
Kershaw, Sarah. “Look Closely, Doctor: See the Camera?” The New York Times, The New York Times, 28 Aug. 2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/28/fashion/28truman.html.