Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Title: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Director: Charlie Kaufman
Starring Cast: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet
Reel Reviews Rating:
What if you could erase painful memories from your mind? Is it possible to completely erase someone from your mind? What are the moral implications involved? These are some of the questions posed by this movie, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
The basic story focuses on the volatile relationship between Joel (Jim Carrey) and Clementine (Kate Winslet). No members of a couple can be any more different than these two. Joel is quiet, reserved, and frankly, lacks any personality. Clementine is loud, obnoxious, impulsive, and an alcoholic. It’s not surprising that they break up.
When Joel learns that Clementine had undergone a procedure to have memories of him and their romantic past erased from her mind, he is thunderstruck and deeply hurt. So he decides to do the same thing.
There are two subplots involving the young employees (Elijah Wood, Kirsten Dunst, and Mark Ruffalo) and the doctor (Tom Wilkinson) at Lacuna, the medical facility that conducts the memory erasure, both of which reveal to overlap with the main story.
Now, this film was categorized as a romantic comedy. I remember commercials on tv that featured scenes from the movie while playing upbeat music. I thought too, that it would be a comedy. However, after having watched it, I think that it’s more of a drama. There are a couple of funny moments, but by no means is it a romantic comedy. Reliving both the happy and painful memories of an ex is not fun or funny.
I thought the acting was pretty ok. Jim Carrey was very different from what we’re used to seeing. In Eternal Sunshine he looks glum, depressed, and somber. Even his appearance was different. He looked old and craggy, with wrinkles down his face. I guess it adds to the feeling that this is an “indie”, non-Hollywood film. Kate Winslet’s Clementine is downright annoying. I guess she was trying to come off as being a free spirit and all that, but I didn’t like the character at all. However, I think that Winslet did a better job at this type of role than Jennifer Aniston did in Along Came Polly, though admittedly Aniston’s Polly is not supposed to be as erratic as Clementine.
This being a Charlie Kaufman film (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation), Eternal Sunshine is simply weird and trippy to watch. First of all, the events don’t follow a straight chronological order. This alone isn’t a big deal since these days more and more films use this approach. Second, because much of the film takes place in Joel’s mind, there are heavy elements of fantasy and bizarre (but cool) scenes. Third, the film quality of Eternal Sunshine seems to have a raw and more realistic feeling to it. It’s not polished and smooth looking like typical Hollywood movies, where the actors are all airbrushed to hell. Like I mentioned before, Jim Carrey looks like hell. The younger actors still look pretty good though, like Kate Winslet, Elijah Wood, and Kirsten Dunst.
There are lots of cool special effects employed to create the scenes in Joel’s memories. According to the IMDB, most were created using forced perspective, old fashioned lighting, editing, and props, much like in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
I’m really not sure what to make of this film. I didn’t quite like it, nor did I dislike it. I think it’s mainly because I’m just not used to Charlie Kaufman’s style. In fact, I kind of felt the same way after watching Being John Malkovich. In both movies, the plot is really weird but cool, and you don’t really like any of the characters. I suppose though, that some people can relate to Joel, as someone who wants so badly to forget about a lost love that he literally has his memories of her erased from his mind.
That being said, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is not for everybody. Older folks may not like the jumbled timeline and the MTV-like cinematography. Some people may just be plain confused. But others may consider it an artistic film, and appreciate it for its unique plot.
I rented this movie because I had heard so many positive reviews about it. Now I’ve seen it, and I think one viewing is enough for me.
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