Movies Promoting Mental Health : The Truman Show

In collaboration with Tanisha and Shambhavi , curators of the movie review blog Lights-Camera-Action , we have collated a weekly reviews series on Movies Promoting Mental Health to help generate awareness in an entertaining way , and to see these movies in a new light. Enjoy review #2 (The Truman Show Review as written by Tanisha Agarwal)

A perplexing and thought provoking watch, Truman Show revolves around Jim Carreyʼs humdrum existence which had been converted into a live telecast with billions of people spending each waking moment with him, ogling at every single action and prying into his personal life.

On reading this, “Keeping up with the Kardashians” might pop up in your head which works along the same lines, but here is the catch. Truman was not aware of this show. He was in the dark for about thirty whole years while billions of people stalked him everyday from the minute his eyelids fluttered open to when he retired to bed at night.

To add to the absurdity of this entire concept, there were cameras on him even while he was asleep. Also, let me make this clear- Truman Burbank was no Kardashian. He was just a quotidian insurance salesman with a mundane 9-5 desk job, a wife with whom he had daily squabbles and the inevitable “baby” conversation, a standard and scenic bungalow in the small town of Seahaven and was a quintessential Houdini who wanted to escape the harsh realities of adulthood and become an explorer.

Besides all these mundane qualities, his wife definitely did not wake up one fine day and decide to run for the president of The United States of America out of the blue. Truman was nowhere nearly as conspicuous and controversial as the Kardashians.

Inspite of this, viewers from all over the world were emotionally attached to his life probably more than their own. Their heart was invested in Trumanʼs and they literally considered him as their offspring. The land of Seahaven which is their set encompasses a fake sun, moon, stars, ocean and about five thousand hidden cameras. Each element of The Truman Show was crafted extremely meticulously.

They conveniently forced upon Thalassophobia i.e. an intense fear of the sea by conjuring a storm while he was sailing with his father which lead to his apparent death to keep their star from traveling anywhere away from Seahaven. They also used his wife Meryl, who shot down his idealistic and dreamy ideas of becoming and explorer and traveling the world by reminding him of the responsibilities than adulthood had thrust on him. Everyone around him was in on this from his best friend who kept barging in on situations where Truman was doubtful about a hidden camera or any aspect of this entire show to his teacher in Primary school who told him that he could not become an explorer as there was nothing left to explore. Anyone who served as a risk to disclose to Truman that his entire life was a TV show either died immediately or shifted away. To sum it up, Christof, the mastermind behind this idea found ingenious explanations for every tiny implausibility that could let the cat out of the bag.

Every single morning, Truman met the same people in the same spot and the same time and said the exact same things to them. Soon, he realises that his entire life is on a loop. That realisation coupled with a few technical glitches like the lighting equipment falling off and landing on the road and the run in with his dead father who had drowned in front of his own eyes made him question if anything was amiss in his life for the first time in thirty years. After these baffling incidents, what confirmed these suspicions was how his attempt to go to Fiji was blocked at every single point without fail. Either bridges would break down, forest fires would randomly begin from nowhere or cars would magically appear and block his path. Besides exploring unknown lands, the first place he wanted to visit was Fiji, where the love of his life, Lauren had “shifted” to. While he was happy with Meryl, Lauren had always been the woman of his dreams.

All the obstructions he faced on his journey filled him with doubts.

“We would laugh about how unrealistic some of it seemed”, said co star Laura Linney. Little did she know that it was gonna come true in the future. People are so overly obsessed with television stars that they turn even their everyday lives into content. They forget they have a life outside of the screen and cross the line between their professional and personal life. Unlike normal movies, actors do not just have to perform like a character. They have to perform as actors that are acting. The movie starts off as slightly dull and ambiguous but picks up in the second half.

Jim Carrey, as usual gives a stellar performance as Truman with his over the top weirdness toned down slightly inthis movie. While showing how mass media had changed our lives which seemed to be the main theme, the director was also portraying his existentialist dilemma which made him wonder- “Who is really in control?” and weaving a fictional story around it. In the end, Truman must choose between staying in his little artificial bubble or venturing out into the unknown and truly living for himself. Both seem like viable options as staying in the show guarantees Truman the stardom, the appreciation that people donʼt get in a million years but leaving the show means that he gets to live with his numero

uno. So what will Truman Burbank decide? To leave or to not leave? Watch “The Truman Show” on Netflix to find out.

-Tanisha Agarwal


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