Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA, 1998. New Line Cinema, Larger Than Life Productions. Screenplay by Gary Ross. Cinematography by John Lindley. Produced by Bob Degus, Jon Kilik, Gary Ross, Steven Soderbergh. Music by Randy Newman. Production Design by Jeannine Oppewall. Costume Design by Judianna Makovsky. Film Editing by William Goldenberg. Academy Awards 1998. Boston Film Critics Awards 1998. Toronto International Film Festival 1998.
Tobey Maguire experiences a dream come true when he is magically transported along with his always-at-odds sister (Reese Witherspoon) to the world of his favourite Leave It To Beaver-like 50s television sitcom. Once there, he and his sis find themselves slowly turning this quiet, peaceful black and white town into a post-Eden full of colour (through gorgeous digital effects) and knowledge. Joan Allen is tiptop as Maguire’s TV mother, a prim Donna Reed in high heels and pearls who discovers a new world of femininity that is so brave and strong she can’t let it go. Trouble is, the remaining monochrome people in Pleasantville want things back the way they used to be, and do their best to reject the ‘coloureds’ and act out upon them in the most vicious ways possible. Commentary on society’s fear of change and new knowledge is effective if never subtle, and Maguire’s perfectly tuned performance makes it all the more enjoyable to behold.