Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio commentary with director
Michel Gondry and writer Charlie Kaufman; 'A Look Inside Eternal
Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' feature; A Conversation With Jim
Carrey and Michel Gondry; Lacuna Inc. advertisement.
SCREENWRITER, Charlie Kaufman, certainly has an eye for the obscure,
if his work on Being
John Malkovich and Adaptation
is anything to go by. Hence, a love story told Kaufman-style,
is always going to be interesting, particularly given his ability
to challenge conformity.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, needless to say, is a
romantic story with a twist, a dark but ultimately tender tale
of love lost and found, told with all of the quirky qualities
that have made the writers previous screenplays so riveting.
Jim Carrey plays Joel, an everyday city worker who throws caution
to the wind, one day, and hops on a train bound for Long Island
Beach. What compels him to do so is unclear, at first, but, once
there, he meets the impetuous Clementine (Kate Winslet), and the
two immediately bond.
Clementine is a captivating free-spirit, whose hair colour changes
as often as her mood, yet the two quickly fall in love, and the
ensuing relationship opens Joels eyes to a world of risk-taking
that he never knew existed.
But then things go pair-shaped. Joel receives notice that Clementine
has erased all memory of him, prompting him to do the same, out
of spite. Yet his memory blitz triggers some soul searching, mid-procedure,
forcing Joel to do everything in his power to cling on to the
happier times that were shared between them.
And while Joel and Clementine hide out in the different
memory stores of the formers mind, it is left to the erasing
company to try to find them, while sorting out their own problems
in the process.
The company in question is headed by Tom Wilkinsons seemingly
happily-married doctor, who, it transpires, possesses some harmful
secrets of his own, while those providing technical support -
including Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood and Kirsten Dunst - are an
equally offbeat bunch.
Ruffalo pines after Dunsts jovial secretary, who has her
eyes on someone else, while Wood conspires to take Joels
experiences and pass them off as his own, in order to win Clementine
If the ensuing tale sounds convoluted, thats because it
is, and there are times when youre own mind will probably
hurt from trying to keep up with it.
But Kaufmans skill lies in his ability to keep things interesting,
providing viewers with plenty of food for thought as they attempt
to unravel the films mysteries, while also playing to the
strengths of his quality ensemble, rather than opting for too
much technical emphasis on the memory erasing procedure.
While bigger budget movies may have taken a more showy route
into Joels brain, Kaufman and director, Michael Gondry,
opt for a more emotional journey, arming his technicians only
with laptops, and allowing the strength of the performances, rather
than the technology, to shine through.
As a result, Carrey is more muted than usual, only really tapping
into his wilder persona during some of the more outlandish escape
attempts, and furthering his reputation as a serious character
actor in the process. Some of the plot contrivances evoke memories
of his character in The Truman Show, but the actor avoids the
temptation to merely present a retread, turning in arguably his
finest portrayal to date.
Winslet, too, rises to the strength of her material, flitting
nicely between loveable and downright cold, while the support
(and most notably Ruffalo) help to ensure that this works as a
whole, thereby adding to the poignancy of the final moments.
As an exploration of the timeless themes of love, loss and human
emotion, this refuses to take the easy options, managing to appeal
to the intellect, while pulling at the heart-strings, without
ever feeling manipulative. Needless to say, it is an unforgettable