Is the home TV audience tired of watching actors with phony emotions? The Truman Show’s not Shakespeare, but it’s genuine. It’s understood that many people leave him on all night for comfort.
Truman greets his neighbours: “Good morning! And, in case I don’t see you, good afternoon, good evening and good night!” He greets Spencer and dog, Pluto. Out of nowhere, a TV lighting rig crashes onto the street from above. Truman investigates but can’t explain it.
On his drive to work, a news flash comes on the radio saying that the light fell from a plane. From inside the newsstand, Truman’s filmed. Everyone says hello to Truman, and this also looks staged. Truman’s polite at the revolving door to his work building. A colleague offers that Seahaven is the best town in the world. At his desk, Truman makes a discreet call about going to Fiji. He tears out images from a magazine while simultaneously coughing to disguise the tearing sound.
He goes to Wells Park on Harbour Island and buys a boat ticket. The harbour master watches him. Truman then sees, of all things, a sunken boat by the jetty and seizes up with anxiety. He returns quickly to dry land.
Truman tells friend Marlon that he wants a new job. He says he wants to go to Fiji, on the other side of the world. Truman’s waiting for a bonus at work, then he’s leaving.
The last time Truman saw his father was just before he was swept overboard in a storm. Now, a narrow column of personal rain soaks him. He moves to one side, and the rain moves over him again. Then, it rains everywhere.
Next day, Truman recognises a homeless man as being his father. The man’s quickly spirited away, now in the custody of the authorities. Truman chases, until a flash mob blocks his path and the father is gone — leaving Truman alone.
Truman goes through his photos of Seahaven College. At a party, Truman locks eyes with a pretty girl, until a cheerleader, Meryl falls onto him and introduces herself. While they dance, Truman only has eyes for Sylvia although they’re with different partners. Sylvia is then abducted.
Later, Truman would rather study than party with Meryl — his future wife — and Marlon. Truman finds Sylvia in the library studying Japanese. She says it’s dangerous for them to talk. He asks her out anyway and they run off to the beach. Sylvia says they don’t want her talking to him, saying that everything’s fake. Angry, authoritative people — including one man pretending to be her father — soon arrive and Sylvia’s whisked away.
“Crackdown On Homeless” is headline that morning. Truman’s downhearted. He walks in the revolving door at work and straight back out again. He’s lost in thought. He stops a bus in the middle of the street holding up his arm, then starts running. Those around him are shocked by this spontaneous activity. Truman glimpses behind-the-scenes goings-on.
He meets Marlon at work, saying he’s being followed and that his dad is alive. He has to do something drastic. He then drinks beer with Marlon on the beach and they watch the sunset.
Truman’s mom and wife Meryl are looking through a photo album and they find the wedding photos. Truman finds a wedding photo showing Meryl crossing her fingers while kissing him.
He covertly takes his bike out to Meryl’s workplace at the hospital to find her in theatre with a team of surgeons. He watches these actors try and perform surgery on somebody.
While waiting at the travel agent’s, he notices a poster on the wall graphically portraying a plane mid-air being struck by lightning. He asks for a flight to Fiji leaving today. Instead, he must make do with a bus to Chicago. A little girl is shushed by her mother when she recognises Truman from TV. A freak bus malfunction means everyone must get off.
Later, Truman’s in his car and beckons to his wife. He predicts the actions of passers-by: jubilant when he’s proved correct. She changes the subject to an upcoming barbecue. Truman says they should both go somewhere now, suggesting Atlantic City — seemingly at random.
Truman’s driving so badly Meryl might throw up. Almost immediately, they encounter heavy traffic, making Truman suspicious. Driving home again, he changes his mind and heads off to New Orleans. They sit by the bridge over the water circling Seahaven. He’s never left the island. Meryl reminds him he’s aquaphobic and so can’t drive over or be around water. Not to be discouraged, he clamps her hand to the wheel, shuts his eyes and stamps his foot on the accelerator.
Then, there are forest fire warnings. They drive through the flames, still bound for New Orleans. Meryl wants to call Truman’s mother. Air raid sirens sound. An official says there’s no getting through and accidentally reveals he knows Truman. Truman proceeds on foot, but is chased down in the forest. Meryl thinks Truman needs professional help.
Back at home, Truman wonders why they’re even together. She advertises a brand of cocoa to him, knowing that she’s on TV. When he threatens to cut her, she looks upwards pleading “Do something!”
Marlon arrives with a six pack of beer. Truman says he’s onto something big and that everybody seems to be in on it. Marlon reminisces with Truman, them having been friends since they were seven. Marlon is secretly being told what to say by Christof in a far-removed TV control room. Marlon then says that if everybody was in on it, he himself would be in on it, too.
Marlon then says he’s found Truman’s father for him. Waitresses and other viewers watch teary-eyed as this unfolds. Christof increases the volume of the music for maximum emotional TV punch. Truman embraces his father and the viewers rejoice. Christof is congratulated.
A TV presenter called Mike Michaels says that Truman’s father was written back into the Truman show out of necessity. Christof had to manufacture ways to keep Truman on the island. Roughly 5,000 cameras watch Truman in Seahaven.
At birth, Truman became the first baby ever to be legally adopted by a corporation. Product placement keeps the show funded. When asked why Truman is only now thinking about the world around him, Christof says: “We accept the reality of the world with which we’re presented.”
Sylvia angrily calls Christof. She calls him guilty. Christof says he’s keeping Truman safe, that Truman prefers his prison. He says Meryl will leave Truman soon and they’ll introduce another love interest.
In the morning, Truman stares into the bathroom mirror and paints an astronaut’s helmet around the reflection of his face. Then, he rubs it all off, saying that one’s for free.
He says hi to regular, daily people, as usual. He seems his happy self at work. A new colleague is introduced as Vivienne.
After Meryl leaves him, he moves into the basement. This bizarre behaviour means Marlon is dispatched with a six pack of beer to find out what’s happening. Marlon discovers a hidden tape recorder under a sleeping bag playing snoring sounds and discovers an escape tunnel.
Christof quickly cuts transmission. Viewers globally are shocked. The whole town of Seahaven is thrown into high alert — with hundreds of extras scrambled. Even his father yelling out to Truman doesn’t help. Christof then makes the sun rise, triggering daybreak. The fixed image replacing footage of Truman’s life is getting higher ratings than ever before.
Christof switches to ocean cameras. Truman is found on a small boat clutching an image he’s compiled of Sylvia. Another boat is sent to fetch Truman back. Christof accesses the weather program and a storm hits Truman’s boat. Christof calls for more lightning. Truman’s thrown into the sea, but gets back on board. He starts singing “The Drunken Sailor”. Christof increases the wind speed.
When the storm passes, Truman is barely alive. He then sails into a big, sky-coloured screen — the edge of his world. He can’t get through. He leaves the boat and walks along the horizon where sky meets ocean. There are steps leading up.
Christof’s voice projects from a cloud. He says he’s the Creator of a TV show that gives hope, inspiration and joy to millions and that Truman is the star. In his world, there’s nothing to fear. Christof has been watching Truman since the day he was born. Christof tells Truman he belongs in Seahaven. Truman is live to the world and is encouraged to say something.
Truman offers his perky catchphrase “In case I don’t see you, good afternoon, good evening and good night!” Truman then bows and goes through the door at the top of some steps. Viewers celebrate. Christof orders transmission be ceased. The viewers quickly get bored and start channel hopping.
Starring Jim Carrey. Ed Harris. Laura Linney. Rated PG. Dir Peter Weir. Released in the UK 1998. Runtime 1hr 43mins