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Pleasantville (1998) (1998)

3 Ratings: 3.3
A movie directed by Gary Ross

Fantastical writer Gary Ross (Big,Dave) makes an auspicious directorial debut with this inspired and oddly touching comedy about two '90s kids (Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon) thrust into the black-and-white TV world ofPleasantville, aLeave … see full wiki

Director: Gary Ross
1 review about Pleasantville (1998) (1998)

The Beauty of Imperfection

  • Jul 16, 2002
Rating:
+3
As we all bumble along our winding paths to happiness, as we all struggle to perfect our imperfections... how often do we take a moment to realize that it may just be the imperfections in life, in ourselves, that make those moments of happiness possible? As the brother and sister team of Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon in "Pleasantville" enter the seemingly perfect world of a 1950s television show, it becomes apparent that a life without suffering, a life without risk, a life without failure... is not a life worth living. It is indeed a life pleasantly led, comfortable with routine and with continually guaranteed success as risk has no place in it. But it is a life that spins endlessly upon itself, leading nowhere, without dimension, happiness, discovery, or knowledge. Although the characters in this black and white world seem to be happy, it is apparent their happiness is superficial and shallow. Without the necessary contrast of unhappiness, happiness is not appreciated or valued. It is but a smiling mask worn on one's face like theatre make-up. Without imperfection, there is no drive to perfect. Without risk, there is no growth. Without passion, there is no color. "Pleasantville" is a movie about black and white characters in a perfect world discovering their true colors.

The message of "Pleasantville" is clear: we need to take risks to achieve, we need to understand the difference between wrong and right to make truly moral decisions, we must be able to fail, to make mistakes, to be humanly imperfect in order to be our very best. What makes us worthy of love is not how perfect we are, but how we strive to overcome our imperfections. What makes us beautiful is not that we are "10's" - but that we are feeling, faulty beings who are what we are because of the struggles we endure and the scars we carry.

As for the character played by Jeff Daniels, my personal favorite... I was reminded of the "Beast" in a favorite novel called "January's Paradigm" by J. Conrad Guest. This "Beast" is sometimes vile, sometimes ugly, sometimes perverse. But the "beast" in us all can also be our source of creativity. Daniels plays a simple, black and white character with a good heart and an attachment to his routine that comes to life - to color - as he discovers color in the world around him. He makes mistakes... and so he learns. He takes his first risks... and finds achievement. He opens his heart to the pain and joy of love... and discovers the passion to paint extraordinarily beautiful images.

Morality and goodness are, after all, meaningless, unless they are chosen with a conscious understanding of the choice being made. To live a life without choices is not a thing of beauty. It is the life of an automaton. To choose to put the right colors into one's life... that is the art of being human.

"Pleasantville" is easily one of my most favorite movies... in spite of some of its imperfections... and often precisely because of its imperfections.

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