Pleasantville (1998)

I had previously watched this film before, but seeing it on LoveFilm I thought I would watch it again. And so I thought I hadn’t posted for a while, so why not post on Pleasantville. A rather peculiar film.

Now the opening shows us Pleasantville that David (Played by Tobey Maguire) loves to watch and in particular, there is going to be a marathon of the show which is set to take place the forthcoming weekend. Then the words ‘Once Upon A Time..’ appear before a coloured, very modern, school scene takes place which a very awkward David (Maguire) ‘talking’ to a girl, before it shows us that he’s actually some distance away from said girl, who is talking to someone else.

Some distance away from the Pleasantville lifestyle, three teachers are seen lecturing the class on the unemployment rates, sexual diseases and of course, global warming. All very real scenarios that the youth would learn about during high school. Later, whilst David is watching Pleasantville (reciting it word for word) in the background, his mother can be heard arguing about the custody of the kids.

As expected, David is not an only child, he has a sister, Jennifer (Played by Reese Witherspoon) who differs greatly from David, (She is popular, whilst David seems like a geek/nerd etc) as she is smoking and asking the popular guys out. David and Jennifer eventually collide about the TV about a conflict of their shows being aired at the same time. A rather odd man turns up on their doorstep and essentially puts them in the show, much to the shock of David and Jennifer.

The two worlds begin to collide as they enter the show, David and Jennifer, now in show Bud and Mary-Sue struggle to understand the society. This is begins in particular when Jennifer (Witherspoon) is on a date with Skip Martin (who is played by the swell Paul Walker), and it turns upside down when she decides to introduce him to sex. This begins a rumble in the jungle that is Pleasantville.

Also this begins what I really enjoy about this film, as when people begin to emulate the behaviours of Jennifer, colours begin to appear around Pleasantville. Which I must mention, is in complete black and white, including David and Jennifer. It’s an odd effect that begins with the youth that disappear down Lover’s Lane, as the they become accustomed with the image that surrounded David and Jennifer at school. As more of the citizens begin to succumb to the modern ways, plants, cars and other object begin to turn into corresponding colour.

As Jennifer refers to, the fire brigade at Pleasantville is useless, as nothing sets on fire, or burns for that matter. Until, in a very odd, cringe-worthy scene where Jennifer tells her in-show mother about sex and masturbating. Then, Betty tries this and upon climaxing, a tree sets on fire outside much to the shock of everyone. It’s a very odd, weird scene as I said, however in the next scene Betty has become coloured, after doing this.

As more and more people become coloured, the mayor Big Bob, realises this is an issue and decides to issue a code of conduct in which people are banned from visiting Lover’s Lane, playing certain music, and of course painting with colours. The scenes that continue are very reminiscent of say, the blacks vs whites riots, for example the courtroom with the colours upstairs and the others downstairs and also, shops turning away any citizens that are coloured. Peculiarly during all, only significant events colour David and Jennifer. And these events, coupled with what colours everyone else, leads me to believe that people are only coloured when they feel alive, or feel different about themselves. In essence have a new lease of life makes the people change colour. For example, Jennifer wakes up coloured when she has spent all night, reading and studying, which is an opposite of her character in the real world.

Ultimately, it’s an enjoyable watch regardless and one I would definitely recommend, especially as this is an easy watch. And if you want to see a sure swell Paul Walker, then you need not look no further. The story, coupled with visual effects put in place make it a solid film, but don’t me wrong, it’s not a must-see before you die film, just an entertaining watch. Nothing more, nothing less.

3.5/5

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6 comments

  1. I really enjoyed Pleasantville, I love that someone’s taken the time to bring it to the masses! I completely agree, it’s not a before you die film but it’s great for a rainy day or if you just want to watch something without focusing too hard. Loved the review.

    1. I’m fairly surprised how relatively low key the film is amongst people I know. But yes, it is brilliant for a rainy day, not too much to concentrate on, appreciate the comment too!

      1. I think with some of those types of films though I know I feel like it’s a shame that they’re so hidden. Otherwise references/Halloween costumes wouldn’t need as much of an explanation.

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