Reel Matt

This blog started as my movie marathon — watching a movie a day for a whole year — and has continued as a place for me to write reviews about movies, TV, and various other items.



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The Truman Show

Film #294


An insurance salesman/adjuster discovers his entire life is actually a TV show.

Year 1, Day 301

BEFORE: My sanity is beginning to fade (serenity now!) but I think I can see the light at the end of this finals tunnel. I could probably write a full 1000 words on everything going on right now, but this is about the films. I’ll update you on where the marathon is going for the next few weeks on Tuesday or Wednesday (read: anticipate more breaks even after finals) but for now, I’m looking to relax and de-stress with The Truman Show. Please let this be a good movie.

AFTER: I went into The Truman Show expecting something completely different from what I got. Jim Carrey plus the comedy classification on IMDb and I thought I’d be laughing the whole way through (or at least should be). Turns out™ that wasn’t the case, yet I wasn’t disappointed. Sure enough, if I look a bit farther down the IMDb list, there’s a classification for science-fiction, an extremely apt descriptor and what made this film so enjoyable.

There’s a quote that goes something along the lines of, “Science fiction allows us to explore our own reality.” That’s a gigantic paraphrase of someone who I can’t remember exactly (I want to say Ronald D. Moore of BSG fame, but am not certain). In other words, just because something is science-fiction doesn’t mean it needs to take place in space or some drastically different time period. The Truman Show is an excellent example and shows how with a great, and well executed, setup the rest of a bizarre and unbelievable story can be entertaining and have the viewer willingly suspend their disbelief.

Above all else, what The Truman Show does best is its original, or at least creative, premise. A man, Truman Burbank, is actually the star of a reality TV show that people have been tuning in to for thirty years to see his birth, first step, and many other life milestones. Overall the film does a good job at knowing when to release information so as not to annoy the viewer of wanting to know what’s happening nor inundating them with too much at once. And the filmmakers also do a beautiful job at giving us many visual clues rather than telling everything through exposition. One of the reasons I thought the opening and setup was so great was because I didn’t quite know what was going on. Things looked weird and the cinematography, through different lens choices to play with depth, perspective, and framing, kept you guessing as to what exactly it was. The first big reveal (that Truman is actually in a reality TV show) comes about twenty to thirty minutes in; the end of the first act. One example of the brilliance of the film is that while you can guess that Truman is being watched, and it’s probably a TV show or some candid camera of sorts, it’s still up in the air until you find out for sure with Truman.

I very much enjoyed The Truman Show and is just what I needed to break up a day that has gone on just too long. Much like Synechdoche, New York, this film’s strength is also it’s weakness. A few times, mostly towards the end, I felt as if the amount of information revealed, and the way in which it was presented, to be a bit forced as if they needed to tie up some loose ends and create a great ending. Again, this is bittersweet to say the least. It’s what makes the film sing and hooks you in from the first scene but it also sets itself up for disappointment at the end as it is incredibly hard to top a mind-blowing opening. I must say that the last scene was extremely well done and sealed it in as a film I’d recommend. I’d especially recommend The Truman Show to anyone who likes Synchedoche, New York or any other Charlie Kaufman film.

RATING: 4 out of 5