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The Truman Show (1998)

by British Film Critic

On its surface level alone, there is more than enough to keep you entertained and engaged in The Truman Show, but it’s the subtext beneath everything that really makes the film so great – there’s commentary to be found anywhere and everywhere you look to, ranging from capitalist exploitation to humanity’s relationship with a higher power to a mediation on the art of cinema itself. In every comedic bit, in every traditional story beat, you can’t help but feel the commentary and depth, with each line and concept having plenty to pick apart, and interpret in any way you see fit.

Peter Biziou’s cinematography perfectly captures this dream-like non reality that the film occupies – the overarching dystopian feel to the film’s narrative hits incredibly close to home in far too many ways, and despite how outlandish it seems at face value, the more and more the film progresses, the less and less distant it’s reality feels from our own, in a rather frightening, yet similarly uplifting way.

For a film with a premise solely centred around naturalistic performances (brought to the absolute extreme), one could easily think Carrey would be a complete misfire in the leading role, but, in fact, the opposite is the case. The emphatic, brass, outlandish and idiosyncratic tendencies audiences expect from the actor are all on show, and feel completely fitting of someone in Truman’s situation, often conveying great humour, but even more often conveying intense emotion. The Truman Show unfortunately does wade into some overtly cringeworthy, generic emotional territory, and when so much of the film outwardly mocks the use of these tropes in other media, when it crops up unironically in the same film, you can’t help but recognise it.

As with a lot of great films, this is a film that can be interpreted and appreciated on a number of levels, whether that be comedically, profoundly, emotionally or all of the above, making for something that I genuinely feel has something for everyone, yet does so in a way that never feels contrived, shallow or anything less than painstakingly original.