Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Elijah Wood, Mark Ruffalo, David Cross, Jane Adams, Kirsten Dunst, Tom Wilkinson
R (For language, some drug and sexual content)
Everyone, at one point in their life or another, wishes they could erase a bad memory or a lost love from their mind. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind answers the question what would happen if that were possible.
Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) has a met a beautiful, if not crazy, woman. Clementine (Kate Winslet) is her name and she’s just the woman for him. The problem is, she’s decided to erase him from her memory. So, in an effort to forget the woman he loves, he takes on the same process. Dr. Howard Mierzwiak (Tom Wilkinson) takes his money gladly and sets Joel on his way to a blissful, Clementine-free memory.
As the doctor’s assistants, Stan (Mark Ruffalo) and Patrick (Elijah Wood), take to Joel’s bedside to work the process, Joel suddenly decides as the fleeting memories are being erased, that he doesn’t want to forget her. No matter what the bad times held in store, the good times were all so wonderful.
Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman has delivered another slam dunk. Eternal Sunshine is so far his best work. Every word is crafted with such care that, even if the performances weren’t brilliant, the truth of each of the characters would be evident. The plot weaves between reality and remembrances of the past as we watch with interest from the beginning to see where the story ends up.
Carrey gives his best performance since The Truman Show and in some instances better. This is a knock-out performance that should earn him more Oscar attention than he has received yet. At his side, Winslet gives her best performance since Titanic. Her manic presentation fits the role perfectly and never lets the audience forget her.
Director Michel Gondry, whose previous work has been unspectacular, stepped out of the box and took Kaufman’s script and visualized it perfectly. The screen is filled with so many mesmerizing images that repeat viewings will continue to reveal. A scene in the library where books slowly lose their titles as Joel’s memory is erased is one of the many well produced scenes that make this a film that is as much about the story and the performance as it is about the visuals.
Eternal Sunshine has a lot of which to be proud. The film explores the greatest depths of love in the face of adversity. It’s not about the exterior challenges that love faces but about the internal ones. The struggle to love must come within. It cannot be superficial and allow things on the surface to cloud its judgment. Love must flourish in the heart and soul of every romantic and emerge without trepidation or doubt.
Audiences will fall in love with this unusual but poignant film about what truly matters. For the romantic in everyone, it is an affirmation that even through despair one can find true love, even if with the imperfections in all of us.
April 7, 2004