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A Magical Moment in the Movies
on 11 January 2003
After seeing this film on DVD I am sorry I did not make the time to see it in the theatre. Frank Darabont has created a wonderful and nostalgic film with echos of Frank Capra everywhere. The lush cinematography with it's colorful hues help create and enhance a very special movie that will leave you wodering why films like this don't get made anymore.
Jim Carrey completely loses himself in a quiet and underplayed role which could easily have garnered him an Oscar if anyone had been watching. This is an old style film and Carrey gives an old style performance as Peter Appleton. After an horrific car accident, he loses his memory and is mistaken, and embraced, by an entire town as Luke. Luke is a long missing and beloved son of both the town and Martin Landau, who gives a wonderful performance as always.
Adele Stanton is amazing as Laurie Holden, Luke's girlfriend and touchstone for all that is good about smalltown America in the 50's. James Whitmore and David Ogden Stiers are just two of the many faces you will recognize in this magnificent film. The entire town comes together to help restore it's once great movie theatre, "The Majestic", where magic use to be seen.
Like any Capra film, Darabont's movie takes it's time to unfold. The basic story is surrounded by small insights into ourselves and how we live. Does what people expect of us make us better? If we become better than who we were, where do we belong then? Peter will have to answer these questions when he remembers who he is. He has come to love Laurie and his 'father' Landau, and may no longer be Peter, at least not the old Peter.
The town who feels betrayed by their favorite son is not the only problem Peter/Luke must deal with. The communist witch hunts of the fifties are in full force and he must go back and face the committee. But who he is now may change how he answers the questions. Once he figures out where he belongs, he must find out if he can live the life he chooses.
This long and beautiful film is truly special. The last ten minutes of this old style masterpiece reminds us of all that is good about the movies. If you are lucky enough to be seeing this for the first time, I envy you. If you didn't give this film a chance the first time around, give it another try.
"There Magic is Right Here, The Trick is to See It"--Martin Landau