Although made well before 9/11, Darabont's drama of clockwork redemption cannot help but be read in the light of responses to those attacks. The perfect gauge of a peculiarly American schizophrenia, it's a timely testbed for versions and visions of the abiding Dream under threat. It's 1951 and B-movie screenwriter Peter Appleton (Carrey) is on the up, until accusations of links to blacklisted talent bring it all to a halt and, on a rainy night drive up the coast, he pitches into a river. He survives, an amnesiac, and is mistaken for a WWII hero, the lost son of derelict Majestic cinema owner Harry Trimble (Landau) in the town of Lawson. Appleton doesn't know what to believe, but the war-traumatised community rejoices that he's back. They reopen the cinema; he gets the girl; the Feds pick up his trail; things remind him about the past; the community become suspicious; he's hauled off to testify. This unashamedly nostalgic and revisionist examination of ethics defended (or ditched) is emotionally manipulative, visually banal, narratively irksome and way over-extended. Viewed from another angle, the film is a prescient and provocative work, rendering a deep and troubling unease.
Cast and crew
David Ogden Stiers