Pleasantville (PG-13) 1998
Reviewer’s Tilt (5)
Special DVD Features worth a look-Director commentary
On one level this film is a "back in time" comedy about a boy and his sister coping with 1950’s sitcom values. Looking a little deeper, this film really takes a stab at today’s society and the strictures affecting us all. Do not get me wrong, this is not an incredibly deep film, but the story is good and the points well made. A wacky TV repairman (Don Knotts) gives David (Tobey Maguire) and Jennifer (Reese Witherspoon) the secret to transporting themselves into the surreal environment of a 50’s sitcom. As we laugh at the cloistered affected mannerisms, we slowly realize how society still subtly censors our own actions. The film separates themes with the adroit intertwining of Color and B&W images.
Upon first blush, the separation appears to be based upon 50’s attitudes and 90’s attitudes. The separation is better viewed, however, as the difference between societal conformity and freewill. The obvious progression of things taking color, first a rose, then an apple, lips, a car and paintings, make it obvious that love, knowledge, sex, technology and art are the themes writer/director Gary Ross feels are stifled in today’s society. Once you have tasted the apple, having it taken away is much more painful than never having tasted it at all. Can knowledge be bad? This film conveys the trite truism knowledge gained through making mistakes and choosing what is right is what makes life worth living. It does so, however, in a way that brings this truth uncomfortably close to home.
Format: Color and B&W, Widescreen anamorphic, Closed captioned.
Sound: (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
Extras: Director commentary, isolated score with commentary, cast and crew bios, Featurette "The Art of Pleasantville," Fiona Apple video, storyboard, color TV set-up, trailer