HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
You Don't Nomi
Man from the Alamo, The
Vast of Night, The
Furies, The
Days of the Bagnold Summer
Black Power Mix Tape 1967-1975, The
Apartment 1BR
1776
Parasite
Looking On the Bright Side
Take Me Somewhere Nice
Simon
Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn
Gentlemen Broncos
To the Stars
Lady Godiva Rides Again
Angelfish
Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ
Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, A
This is a Hijack
Loved One, The
Jumanji: The Next Level
Krabi 2562
Call of the Wild, The
Diary of a Country Priest
Sea Fever
Throw Down
Grudge, The
Green Man, The
Specialists, The
Convoy
Romantic Comedy
Going Ape!
Rabid
Infinite Football
Little Women
Camino Skies
Ema
Another Shore
Cry Havoc
   
 
Newest Articles
Who Watched The Watchmen?
The Golden Age of Colonic Irrigation: Monty Python Series 4 on Blu-ray
Lady of Pleasure: Lola Montes on Blu-ray
Take You to the Gay Bar: Funeral Parade of Roses on Blu-ray
Hit for Ms: Mark Cousins' Women Make Film on Blu-ray
Look Sinister: The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse on Blu-ray
Star Wars Triple Threat: The Tricky Third Prequel and Sequel
I Can See for Miles: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes on Blu-ray
Too Much Pressure: The Family Way on Blu-ray
The Alan Key: Alan Klein and What a Crazy World on Blu-ray
A Japanese Ghost Story: Kwaidan on Blu-ray
The Zu Gang: Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain on Blu-ray
Reality TV: The Year of the Sex Olympics on DVD
The Young and the Damned: They Live By Night on Blu-ray
Mind How You Go: The Best of COI on Blu-ray
Der Kommissar's in Town: Babylon Berlin Series 3 on DVD
The End of Civilisation as We Know It: The 50th Anniversary
The Whalebone Box: The Andrew Kotting Interview
Being Human: The Elephant Man on 4K UHD Blu-ray
It's! Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 3 on Blu-ray
Put the Boot In: Villain on Blu-ray
The Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 2: Vic Pratt Interview
All the Lonely People: Sunday Bloody Sunday on Blu-ray
Desperate Characters: Beat the Devil on Blu-ray
Chansons d'Amour: Alfie Darling on Blu-ray
   
 
  Pleasantville We Fear Change
Year: 1998
Director: Gary Ross
Stars: Tobey Maguire, Reese Witherspoon, Jeff Daniels, Joan Allen, William H. Macy, J.T. Walsh, Don Knotts, Marley Shelton, Jane Kaczmarek, Paul Walker, Giuseppe Andrews, Jenny Lewis, Marissa Ribisi, Dawn Cody, Maggie Lawson, Andrea Baker, Lela Ivey, Marc Blucas
Genre: Comedy, Drama, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: Pleasantville was a sitcom of the nineteen-fifties where nothing truly bad ever happened, any upsets were minor and could be easily solved before the half hour episode was finished. It is vintage series such as these that attract teenage David (Tobey Maguire) because they show a simpler way of life that he yearns for, the modern world being something he has yet to get to grips with as it seems a very dark and complicated place indeed. So when this weekend, with his divorced mother away, the TV station that broadcasts Pleasantville announces a marathon of the programme, he is delighted...

Or he is until his sister Jennifer (Reese Witherspoon) gets into an argument with him over who gets to hog the TV, as she has her new boyfriend coming round which she has high hopes for - they plan to watch the concert in the front room, and then, who knows what? Jennifer copes with life the way that David does not, but even as she seizes it by the scruff of the neck we can tell that her brittle personality illustrates just as much dissatisfaction as her twin brother does. So begins a film that may not have been the megahit that all involved appeared to be expecting, but has won a place in the hearts of a few who found its offbeat lessons appealing.

It was the directorial debut of writer Gary Ross, a staunch advocate of family entertainment, though as his previous, best known credit for Big indicated, this did not necessarily mean he wished to leave every media outlet sugarcoated and anodyne. Indeed, with Pleasantville there was a lot going on beneath its quaint surface, just as the sitcoms it gently parodied bowed to an idealised way of living that may not have applied to everyone as their reality, never mind what they aspired to. The conceit here was that the entertainment of the fifties had to give way to the more worldly material that advances a more complex society, which might be denying that the planet back then was less complex - not exactly true.

Once the TV repairman (Don Knotts, no stranger to the era under the microscope) shows up to replace David and Jennifer's broken remote control, his special gadget sends them into the land of the TV show, horrifying her but intriguing him. At first David is keen to preserve the place the way they found it, but rebellious Jennifer finds the prospect of this bland existence infuriating and begins the change that will throw the black and white normality into full colour complications, a neat visual style that sees splashes of colour first appear sparingly, then spread to the denizens of the smalltown itself. Along the way everyone has to accept change as perfectly natural, though no less daunting.

You do see this fictional world and think, there were plenty of fifties sitcoms which were nowhere near as personality-free as Pleasantville - what if David's favourite show had been Sgt. Bilko, for example? Yet that is the point, that we see the past as something more stable, more safe, and the present, the future too, as the source of anxiety: it's not as if Ross was saying that this decade was precisely as he depicted it, more that it was how it was idealised, both then and now. So David's new parents (Joan Allen and William H. Macy) struggle in their own way with the march of time, and the inevitable progress that improves in some ways, gets worse in others, and Jennifer learns from the past in a manner she never would have if she had stayed in the present. This is all so well crafted and acted that it seems a shame to point out that Ross was far too obvious in the way he goes about targeting his progressive themes (signs in shop windows saying "No Coloreds", for example), but Pleasantville was poignant, sincere and generous, if not exactly hilarious for a comedy. Music by Randy Newman.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 2241 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
  Hannah Prosser
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Butch Elliot
  Rachel Franke
Paul Smith
   

 

Last Updated: