i must have been 5 or 6 when i saw the truman show. it was playing on my parents’ sony tv that could have been only as big as a breadbox. and from that experience, other than that it happened, i can recall truman finding out something huge, world-shattering, and insane. i remember blue… i remember just jim carrey and blue.
i saw peter weir’s the truman show again last sunday. to commemorate this event, i made very plain, very straightforward pho. it isn’t too difficult to make, particularly if you’re doing a bootleg version (i don’t think i know how to make anything not-bootleg). it’s just beef broth (store bought, of course), ginger, cardamom, star anise, and a cinnamon stick that gets boiled for 20 minutes while you pan fry little rolled minced beef (and soy sauce, ginger, pepper) balls. once it’s 20 past whenever you’d started, add the beef balls and brown rice bee hoon. to that, add two tablespoons of fish sauce and a spoonful of sugar. once it’s boiling, you are done. garnish with a lot of bean sprouts, coriander, and spring onion, two thinly sliced chili padis, and a wedge of lime.
jim carrey is terrific as Truman. he does such a good job of being likable that the premise – Truman’s entire life has been a reality show watched by millions all over the world – is believable. if you had this 24-hour program on wherever you are, you’d want to be watching it too. the film chronicles the moments leading up to his discovery of the fact that there’s a livestream of his life, a little nugget of information obscured to only him.
Christof is the mastermind behind this entire operation. in some ways, he plays God, diverting Truman from evil by manipulating the actors (playing real people) in Truman’s life. turns Truman takes are met by planned reactions, well, for the most part, apart from his interaction with Sylvia (total fox). she instills in him a desire to travel to fiji, something Christof cannot let happen. if the truth sets Truman free, Christof will be robbed of that very thing. if it is a critique of human conceptions of God, it is a good and vastly cynical one. is belief in a god akin to forgoing free will and being denied a full life?
or is the critique that human life itself has become algorithmic and mechanical? if we live within the confines of social expectation, we miss the islands of fiji – the truth that sets you free is the meaning an office desk cannot provide. perhaps we are not meant to be still in the knowledge that there is more and not thrust ourselves into the pursuit of it.