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7 Movies like ‘The Truman Show,’ From ‘Inception’ to ‘The Matrix’

When Jim Carrey played Truman Burbank in the 1998 film The Truman Show, he demonstrated his acting ability beyond his comic charm. Burbank, a mild-mannered insurance salesman who lives in a practically perfect world and is revered by everyone around him, is the protagonist of the science-fiction psychological film.

Truman’s entire life is being shown live on television, and everyone he believed was real, including his wife and best friend, are actually merely actors. The picture contrasts autonomy with incarceration and truth with fantasy.

Inception (2010) 

Inception is a great plot that continuously questions reality, with impeccable directing by Christopher Nolan, a star-studded ensemble, and a thrilling score by Hans Zimmer. It stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Dom Cobb, a corporate espionage thief with the power to penetrate people’s dreams and steal their secrets.

Cobb will take on his most advanced assignment yet, with the help of his partner, Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), and Ariadne (Elliot Page), a young doctoral student whom they recruit to help them—as long as he can put his emotional history behind him. This picture, like The Truman Show, offers psychological concepts that keep audiences intrigued while also thrusting them headfirst into the world of dream extractors.

EDtv (1999) 

This film, like The Truman Show, is about a video store employee named Ed Pekurny (Matthew McConaughey) who volunteers to have his daily life filmed and shown on live television. Both films include mockery of reality TV viewers who see it as mindless entertainment that should cater to their needs.

The major difference between these films, however, is that instead of being an unwilling participant in other people’s amusement, Ed auditions are followed around with cameras 24 hours a day.

The Vanilla Sky (2001)

This science-fiction picture, a psychological thriller with numerous twists and turns, stars Tom Cruise as David Aames, an affluent playboy who appears to have everything he desires in life. However, things take a tragic turn after his estranged ex-lover causes a vehicle accident. His story is told in two timelines: one while he is detained and tells his story to a police psychologist (Kurt Russell), and another while he is retelling the past.

While reality TV does not play a role in this film, the protagonist frequently struggles to distinguish between fiction and reality, and he begins to doubt the veracity of what he remembers.

The plot of The Matrix (1999)

In this film, Neo (Keanu Reeves) seeks the advice of Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) in order to uncover the mysteries of the Matrix. Neo, like Truman, must embark on a journey to disprove his world’s untruth and find what lies beyond a just apparent truth.

The Matrix, possibly one of the finest studies of simulacrum in film history, parallels The Truman Show’s emphasis on rejecting voluntary ignorance. If you have yet to enter the tumultuous realm of this franchise, consider the following quotation from the film: “No one can be told what the Matrix is. You must witness it for yourself.”

Pleasantville (1998) 

In this comedy-drama, a young boy named David (Tobey Maguire) escapes the harshness of his existence by watching “Pleasantville,” a 1950s television sitcom in which all of the characters live their beautiful lives by following the same routine. However, he and his sister, Jennifer (Reese Witherspoon), are transported into Pleasantville as the fictional characters, Bud and Mary Sue, courtesy to a weird remote given to them by a TV repairman (Don Knotts). 

Unlikely as Fiction (2006)

Stranger Than Fiction, directed by Marc Forster, is a compelling story about Harold Crick (Will Ferrell), an IRS auditor who realizes he is the protagonist of a sad novel. Faced with this unusual situation, Harold sets out to find the novel’s author so that he can have a happy ending. Harold, like Truman, does not want others to dominate his life and strives to reclaim his individuality.

Assuming the role of John Malkovich (1999)

This odd fantasy-comedy stars John Cusack as Craig Schwartz, an aspiring puppeteer who discovers a doorway that allows him to temporarily inhabit the body of famed actor John Malkovich. Though its subject is lighter than that of The Truman Show, it addresses comparable themes of autonomy and identity.

While The Truman Show appears to address the harmful impact of vicarious living through reality television viewing, this film takes a more hands-on approach and promotes self-fulfillment as Craig must learn the significance of finding contentment in his own life rather than someone else’s.


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