Imagine yourself waking up one day, and wondering if everything you've ever known is a lie. You say to yourself "No, that can't be… I'm being paranoid." But, as the days go by, you begin to notice little inconsistencies… things that just don't seem 'right' in your world. Imagine how you'd begin to feel.
This is the plight that Truman Burbank (played by Jim Carey), finds himself in. His world, a world that has been carefully created for him since birth, begins to crumble around his ears, and no one is as they seem to be.
The movie follows Truman, the first child ever legally adopted by a corporation, from his birth, through his first step, first tooth, first day of school, all the way into his 30's, and follows the life of this genuine, friendly, pseudo-"walter mitty" individual through his normal day of selling insurance. His wife Meryl (played convincingly by Laura Linney), a nurse at the local hospital, is the very model of the "June Cleaver" type of woman, always smiling just a bit too broadly, and always spouting off slogans of new brands of food, clothes and appliances that they use in their day-to-day lives. The other major player in Truman's life is his best friend Marlon (played by Noah Emmerich), who works as a vending machine re-filler.
Lurking behind the scenes as the mastermind of this entire production is the elusive and reclusive Cristof (played by Ed Harris). He is the director of the Truman Show, from the very beginning through the course of the film. He and his cast of thousands (well, we only ever see about 100, but I'm guessing there must be more) keep the sun coming up at the right time, keep the extras in line, and keep the script rolling.
Now, many people will say "Oh, I've seen Jim Carey, and I'm not in the mood for another Ace Ventura or The Mask." Fear not. The only other film I've seen Jim Carey in that resembles this in any way is Liar Liar, where he demonstrated that he was indeed capable of sincere acting and not just comedic slapstick. This movie is the space shuttle that has blasted Carey out of the universe of comedic typecasting, and into the world of endless possibilities. Oh sure, he still has that cheesy smile, oh sure he's still got the Ace laugh every so often, but this film truly plumbed the depths of his dramatic ability, and he did not fail to deliver.
Ed Harris may very well be a contender for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Cristof. How one man can care so much and yet be so insensitive and inconsiderate at the same time is a mystery, yet Harris pulls off this seeming contradiction with style, grace, and a soft-spoken menace that all great artists seem to have when viewed in their native environment.
Linney manages to play the hassled wife, who reveals her intense dislike for Truman and her dissatisfaction with her chosen 'part' well, and provides a character we grow to dislike as the movie goes on. Notable also is Emmerich's performance as Truman's best friend. Emmerich shows us that Marlon does truly care for Truman, and is not comfortable maintaining the charade when Truman begins to suspect.
All in all, this movie shocked me. I walked out of the theatre wondering where the camera's might be hidden in my life, and feeling slightly numb at the thought of how possible the concept of the film really is. In this day and age where everything seems to be on television, where webcams allow strangers to look into the lives of "ordinary people", The Truman Show strikes a cord that leaves a slight chill running down your spine, and a warm glow in your heart, knowing that true love just may win out in the end, even in the movies.
I give this film an A. Definitely a must-see, even at full price.