|"The Majestic" Movie Review
Director Frank Darabont has an impressive track record - two feature films and two Academy Award nominations for Best Picture. Buzz has it that his third effort may well compete in the same category or at the least, give Jim Carrey his best shot at the golden statue for Best Actor.
Darabont set out to make a Capra-esque film to pay homage to that esteemed filmmaker's distinctive style. With "The Majestic," Darabont achieves that goal, and more. Sure, it's totally predictable, it's overly patriotic (it was filmed prior to Sept 11th so he can't be charged with playing to American moviegoers newly found patriotism), and the age difference between Carrey and Landau yanks you out of the film at first glimpse. But, the story is told with such a genuinely sincere and loving touch, and the actors handle themselves so admirably, its small faults can be forgiven.
Carrey could be Jimmy Stewart, or more precisely, this is a Jimmy Stewart character brought to life through Carrey. Jim's uncanny ability to become whatever or whoever directors want him to be is utterly amazing. Carrey goes the entire film playing the role of the straight man. Though many scenes and some dialogue are humorous, he never plays the part as an exercise in comedy.
"The Majestic" is the story of Peter Appleton, a screenwriter facing the unpleasant prospect of having to testify - and name names - during the McCarthy hearings. He's not a communist, but the truth doesn't matter much during this black period in Hollywood's history. He loses his job and with no convincing reason to stay in town, flees Hollywood with only his stuffed monkey for companionship. Crashing his car, he ends up in a small town with no ID but with a case of amnesia and a face that looks remarkably similar to a former town resident. The good citizens of this generic small town invite him in, believing he is Luke Trimble, the son of the town's theatre owner who was thought to have been killed during World War II. This little town has had more than its share of loss - dozens of the town's young men went off to war and never returned. Though unsure of who he is, Peter/Luke rekindles his relationship with an old flame, while searching for the truth about his past.
Carrey's dual role as Peter and Luke yields one of his finest performances. More powerful than "The Truman Show," Carrey deserves attention for his remarkable portrayal of a tortured soul in search of himself. Laurie Holden leaps straight off the pages of a 50s magazine, so perfect is she as Adele, Luke's intelligent yet heart-wrenchingly innocent girlfriend. The actors portraying the townsfolk are authentic small town Americana brought to life.
Darabont does a fine job with this moving tribute to Frank Capra. "The Majestic" may be slow in parts, but the sweet story is delivered with a carefully restrained hand, creating a film that is both heartwarming and sincere.
Overall Grade: B-