The loopy memory-erasure tale "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," from the writer of "Being John Malkovich," is a little too deliberately constructed but still a challenging mind-twister with fine performances by Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet.
By DAVID N. BUTTERWORTH
With his trippy, cerebrally exacting screenplays for "Being John
Malkovich," "Adaptation.," and now "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless
Mind," you have to wonder what kind of pernicious, whacked-out parenting
Charlie Kaufman was subjected to as a child. Or, for that matter, what
kind of prescription medication he's currently taking to deal with those
Directed by Michel Gondry (who also helmed the Kaufman-penned
anthropological comedy "Human Nature"), "Eternal Sunshine..." is
another high concept and totally original story from one of Hollywood's
most imaginative writers. Like "'Malkovich" and "Adaptation." before it the
film gets inside the heads of its characters like no other. WAY inside.
|ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND|
|Directed by: Michel Gondry.|
Written by: Charlie Kaufman, Michel Gondry, Pierre Bismuth.
Cast: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Gerry Robert Byrne, Elijah Wood, Thomas Jay Ryan, Mark Ruffalo, Jane Adams, David Cross, Kirsten Dunst, Tom Wilkinson, Ryan Whitney, Debbon Ayer, Amir Ali Said, Brian Price, Paul Litowsky, Josh Flitter, Lola Daehler, Deirdre O'Connell.
Cinematography: Ellen Kuras.
Edited by: Vald’s îskarsd—ttir.
Related links: Official site | All of David N. Butterworth's reviews at Rotten Tomatoes
I loved the ideas in the film, the suggestion that the way to be eternally
happy is to free your mind of all bad associations and encumbrances
(that being, in a nutshell, the paraphrased meaning behind the film's
unbearable lightness of title, a phase attributed to Alexander Pope in the
film, or maybe that was Pope Alexander?), and I loved the characters, the
performers, with Kate Winslet staggeringly good as a young woman
whose hair color changes as often as her mood. She sparks from the
outset impassioned and a little bit schizophrenic, credible, likeable,
But ultimately "Eternal Sunshine..." is simply too high-concept to
resonate. I found myself enjoying its aspirations but was confused and
occasionally bored by its destinations. And its failing, relatively speaking
(this is still a good film after all, just not a great one), is that it's just
too bloody poignant.|
Jim Carrey plays Joel Barish, a shy and compulsive individual who
learns that his recent girlfriend Clementine (Winslet) whom he met at a
Long Island beach party or on the train to Montauk or some place he no
longer remembers has had an experimental procedure performed to
delete him from her memory. Alternatively crushed and angered by this
revelation, Joel employs the services of Lacuna, Inc. to vengefully return
the memory-removing favor.
But love, it turns out, is harder to erase than one might think.|
As Joel undergoes the scientific treatment at the hands of Dr. Howard
Mierzwiak (Tom Wilkinson) and his mind-altering surrogates (played with
compatible affection by Kirsten Dunst, Mark Ruffalo, and "The Lord of the
Rings"'s Elijah Wood) he recognizes the importance of Clem in his life
and attempts to hide her away in the outer fringes of his psyche, a
process that proves to be easier thought than done.
As he managed in "The Truman Show," comedian Carrey pulls off
another empathetic Everyman whose mind, one he's slowly losing, is
being remotely controlled. His performance here, like the character he
plays, is not as flashy or extroverted as Winslet's but it's every bit as
special. Not only can the man talk out of his backside but he can act as
"Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" offers up a mesmerizing
premise that, with the help of the engaging Carrey and Winslet, manages
to be occasionally bright, oftentimes moving, and sporadically amusing.
Had screenwriter Kaufman toned down his concept (which calls to task
the very existence of deja-vu) a brow or two, it might have been even better.
|MARCH 30, 2004|
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Reader comments on Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind:
Nice! from Tasneem, May 17, 2004
Good from Travis, Dec 4, 2004
wow. from Mary, Apr 7, 2005
great from mia, Jun 28, 2007
amazing from clementine, Oct 25, 2007
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