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Peter Weir’s The Truman Show gets a lot of things right. It allows Jim Carrey to demonstrate range while also playing to his strengths. It showcases Laura Linney’s oft-unsung comedic chops. It both predicts and skewers reality television with such terrifying accuracy that it almost plays as a documentary in a post-Kardashian universe. In truth, the film barely puts a foot wrong.
However, to a 2017 viewer, those very strengths may rob the movie of its essential power. We’re now so numb to the cynicism of reality TV that the film’s fears – while well founded – now read as curiously tame. True – TV networks aren’t openly buying babies just yet, but compared to the likes of Dance Moms and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, The Truman Show looks almost gentle.
One reason the films fails to build much tension is that it gives us pretty much all the information we need within the first five minutes. Imagine of those opening scenes – the lighting rig falling from the sky, the cutaway interviews with the supporting ‘cast’, had appeared halfway through the film, after a solid 45 minutes of building tension and paranoia. By telling us more than it tells Truman, the film forces us to wait impatiently while its protagonist pieces together a puzzle we’ve already been given the answer to.
Still, revisiting the character twenty years on could potentially be played as an interesting comment on the life cycle of the reality TV star. Would Truman have truly escaped to a life of more meaningful obscurity? Where would the show go without the presence of its leading man? Would there be spin-offs, franchises, twists on the format? And as for Truman, would he truly be able to escape the trappings of celebrity? We pondered these and other questions in our usual irreverent style in this week’s episode…
John’s Pitch | The Truman Show 2: The UnReal World
Harry’s Pitch | The Truman Show: Trial & Error
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