Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

June 30, 2011 By Mike B
Movie Review

What Worked?

Love can be a sad thing at times, but would you erase your memories of a loved one because of the pain of separating due to differences, death or distance? Isn’t the pain of love a part of what makes us human? Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is an aesthetically pleasing, wonderfully acted film about supposedly discard-able memories. Charlie Kaufman writes a beautifully complex script and Michel Gondry memorably translates it into celluloid.

Gondry is a visually intimate filmmaker, and one that is creative beyond our constraints on imagination; it’s like he managed to keep his imagination pure as he grew older instead of having it be diluted by reality like most people. Whether it’s a simple, peaceful shot of Jim Carrey walking on a chilly beach alone or Gondry is on crazy-mode and has the couple running through a quickly disappearing bookstore, every move is marvelous. Not to mention the soundtrack, mostly made up of the soothing sounds of Jon Brion, is touching, tragic and soulful. Charlie Kaufman also provides a story that is truly sincere, madly crazy, timely funny and full of heart that beats to a quirky rhythm.

Kate Winslet received a nomination for Best Actress for her role and she truly deserved it. Winslet, as Clementine, with her Rodman-esque hair color-changing habit is quirky and spontaneous, but very caring. She is a truly unique character, and Winslet potrays her in a way that you would want to befriend her in person.

It takes two to make an amazing film about the complexity of intimate relationships, and two devoted performances are given in Michel Gondry’s Film. Jim Carrey, as Joel, gives a powerfully subtle performance that perfectly complements Kate Winslet’s outgoing Clementine. Carrey is a sympathetic, interesting everyman that is comfortably familiar. The heartbreak and the ambiguous hope in Carrey’s portrayal of Joel is so thoroughly genuine that our preconceived expectations of the usually goofy Jim Carrey is completely erased from our memories for the duration of the film; a difficult task to pull off. Winslet and Carrey share undeniable chemistry in all aspects of a relationship: the honeymoon, the hate, the heartache and back again.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is bizarrely correct in its portrayal of love and relationships. It is truly the antithesis of a by-the-books romantic Hollywood film. Joel and Clementine want to avert heartache by erasing each other from their minds. However, this film tells us that memories aren’t just in the mind; they’re in a touch, inside a soul, within the heart. You can erase what you know, but you can’t erase what you feel. It’s not a film about destiny or “the one.” It simply shows that we need one another, even if togetherness will occasionally disrupt the happy times. Simply put, it’s a film you’ll never forget, even if you try to erase it.

Potential Drawbacks:

This isn’t a typical romantic film, and it does jump around a bit, so those looking for a straight-forward film may have a hard time watching this film.

In addition, Jim Carrey fans may be disappointed because of his lack of being the typical wacky Jim Carrey he usually is in films.

Film Recommendations:

Being John Malkovich
Science of Sleep

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