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Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind /

Rated: R

Starring: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Wilkinson

Directed by: Michel Gondry

Produced by: Anthony Bregman, Steve Golin
Written by: Charlie Kaufman
Distributor: Focus Features


     Last night, I went to go see Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and the minute I got home, I began to try to write a review for it. It’s that kind of movie, awakening the senses and exciting them in every way. Yet, when I pulled up the word processing document to write it in, I couldn’t think of what to say; my brain was consumed with emotion, but I couldn’t put any of it into words. It was almost a purer feeling than any experience I’ve had in the real world. Only on brilliant occasions can a movie accomplish something as great as that. I, obviously, decided to sleep on my thoughts of it, straining for a way to explain my passion. While my thoughts regarding Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind only deepened during this time, I’m still having trouble discussing it. It is a piece of discovery that is simply meant to be seen, a glorious picture.

     Told with a wacky concept of time, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, centers around what was the relationship between Joel Barish (Jim Carey), the reserved and thoughtful guy, and Clementine Kruczynski (Kate Winslet), the spontaneous and “nice” girl. For a long while, the two made an unordinary, but rather happy couple. However, when Joel jokingly made a rude comment about Clementine’s sexuality and she took offense to it, their bond was broken. She decides to have her memories of him erased by a medical technology, developed by Lacuna Inc., led by Dr. Howard Mierzwiak (Tom Wilkinson). Joel then finds out about this procedure that was done to his ex, via a note that was sent to their friends, telling them to never speak of him to Clementine again. Out of his own pain, he decides to have the same erasure completed upon his memories of her. During the process, which is performed as he sleeps, Joel suddenly comes to a sudden change in heart, though. It forces him to recall the good times he had with Clementine, and he wants to hold onto the memories. Fighting the urge to let go, his brain continues to be controlled by Mierzwiak’s services. Much of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind takes place inside of Joel’s head, but we willingly accept his memories as reality, and are often touched by them.

     The screenplay was written by the gifted Charlie Kaufman, and despite its unconventional mood, the material is what we’ve come to expect from him. This is his third creation in three years (the other two being Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Adaptation), but it’s also the best of the bunch. A masterpiece, for some writers, seems like a big feat. For Kaufman, however, it’s simply business as usual. To be honest, when Confessions… only turned out to be good last year, I was extremely disappointed. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind steers him back on track though, inventively promising great naturalism through imaginative situations. Inside of the “out-there” plot is a human one, which is, perhaps, more touching than most exhibitions of realist cinema.

     Not even Kaufman’s glowing work can outshine the ensemble cast in the movie, though. Everyone is fabulous, but the best is leading actor Jim Carey. Not until now has he been able to get the recognition he deserves as a serious actor. Critics panned his duo of previous attempts at actually “performing” (Man on the Moon, The Majestic), even though I loved both flicks. I suppose that Carey’s natural balance of humor and sorrow in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was the very aspect of his work that was able to win people over. Opposite him, Kate Winslet is also stellar as Clementine, capturing that odd and exploring feeling that audiences are always longing for. Winslet, who usually plays somewhat of a touching heroine amidst unexpected conflicts (Titanic, The Life of David Gale), is refreshing in this role. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her like this, gripping us with her sheer adventurousness. She does this without a distinct force, and the only reason behind her character’s actions is simple nature, just as a true member of society would live. But even with Carey’s might sharing the screen with her, Winslet’s work wouldn’t have survived without the supporting cast’s efforts. The best performance in that heap would have to be that of Kirsten Dunst, who plays the nurse at Lacuna Inc. Tom Wilkinson, Elijah Wood, and Mark Ruffalo are also terrific.

     The title, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, is derived from a line in the poem "Eloisa to Abelard", by Alexander Pope. This is fitting, because the picture has such a way of tying itself together, in just the way that a poet would his piece. The ending is ingenious, and never would I spoil it. But, if you reach the moment in which you can predict the outcome, as I did, a grin from ear-to-ear will arise on your face. This is not because the conclusion of the movie is a gleeful one, but because you’ve absorbed the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It will sneak up on you, playing with your emotions with its surprisingly down-to-earth fashion.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews

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