The first attempt at drama for Jim Carrey after his record-breaking success in a series of comedies, "The Truman Show" was supported by good word-of-mouth and strong reviews, going on to do well at the box office. While I can't say I enjoyed the movie entirely when I first viewed it several years ago, I've certainly warmed up to it since.
The film stars Carrey as Truman, a mild-mannered insurance salesman living in the small town of Seahaven. The only thing is that Seahaven is a man-made town, in a gigantic dome set - with thousands of cameras recording one person's every movement...Truman's. Ever since he was a kid, Truman has been the star of the world's most popular reality series, unaware to him.
One day, Truman starts to begin to suspect the seams in his world, starting with a stage light seemingly falling out the sky. The radio excuses it as airplane trouble. While walking on the beach, a rain shower seems to be solely over Truman (Carrey's funniest little bit in the movie) and finally, he sees what he thinks is his father, who he thought drowned - only to have people whisk the old man away.
The tragedy with his father was the one event that's made Truman afraid of going out on the water, and his wife, Meryl (Laura Linney) continually reminds him about it. He begins to desire life elsewhere, and often dreams about the girl (Natascha McElhone) he had feelings for years ago, and who tried to warn Truman that his world is a fake. The travel agency makes life difficult for Truman to try and get out of town (with the funny "warning" posters on the wall seemingly advising against any form of travel) and going out on the water isn't an option. When Truman tries to make an escape by car, he runs across a flaming bridge and a power plant leak. Despite the obstacles that face him at every turn - all engineered by director Christof (Ed Harris), his assistant (Paul Giamatti) and crew - Truman keeps seeking escape.
Carrey's performance is sensational, offering a terrific portrayal of a man growing increasingly skeptical of the reality of his own world. Harris is also excellent as a man who has long ago lost sight of his creation, thinking of his world as the right and only choice for Truman, blocking any sort of efforts for him to find out what exists outside histown. Also good in supporting efforts are Giamatti, Linney and, as Truman's best pal, Noah Emmerich.
Although I enjoy "Truman Show" considerably more now than I did when it was first release, the one element that still gets to me slightly is that I wish the movie would have gone a little farther, been a little darker. Apparently, Andrew Niccol's original screenplay was more along those lines. Still, Carrey's terrific performance is the highlight of a thought-provoking feature from director Peter Weir.
VIDEO: "The Truman Show" is given a nifty 1.85:1 (1080p/AVC) transfer by Paramount for its Blu-Ray debut. Sharpness and detail are a little inconsistent, but the majority of the film boasted sharp, well-defined images that showed off good fine detail (hairs, fabric, etc.) The few moments here-and-there that looked softer only appeared slightly less precise.
The print also showed the occasional minor specks and marks, but nothing that caused much irritation. However, some slight edge enhancement was spotted in a few scenes, unfortunately. Colors appear bright and well-saturated, with no smearing or other faults. Aside from a couple of mild concerns, this was a mostly excellent presentation from Paramount.
SOUND: The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 presentation is fairly forward-oriented, which isn't surprising, given the fairly dialogue-driven material. However, the surrounds do kick in at times for some minor environmental sounds, sound effects and score reinforcement. Audio quality is first-rate, with crisp, clear dialogue and sound effects.
EXTRAS: "How's It Going To End?" is a two-part "making of" documentary that offers interviews with director Peter Weir, actress Laura Linney, actor Ed Harris and others. Jim Carrey does offer some comments, but his interview clips seem to have been taken from around the time of production. The participants chat about the original screenplay (which was different in tone and took place in New York), and why they changed it. We also hear about the creation of the characters (most interestingly, Ed Harris working on Christof, as Harris was called in at the last minute) and shooting on location.
"Faux Finishing" is a shorter featurette that takes a look at the CGI effects used in the film. The subtle use of CGI in the film, as seen in these examples, is impressive. We also get four interesting, but not particularly necessary deleted scenes. Finally, we get a photo gallery, 2 TV spots and the teaser/theatrical (HD) trailers for the film.
Final Thoughts: "The Truman Show" is a thought-provoking, engaging comedy/drama from director Peter Weir, with an excellent performance from Jim Carrey. The Blu-ray edition of the film brings the same extras as the DVD Special Edition to the table, along with improved audio/video quality. Recommended.
The Film B+