Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind


Directed by: Michael Gondry
Written by:Charlie Kaufman
Starring: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Wilkinson, Elijah Wood, Kirsten Dunst
Released: April 15, 2004
Grade: A+

            “How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot!

            The world forgetting, by the world forgot.

            Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!

            Each pray’r accepted, and each wish resign’d.”

               - Alexander Pope (1688 – 1744)

 

Walking alone the coastline on a chilly February morning, Joel Barish’s (Carrey) eyes are drawn by an orange shape in the distance.  Moving closer, he passes a cute young girl (Winslet) with blue hair wearing a bright tangerine jacket.  They meet again on the train ride home and she boldly introduces herself as Clementine.  That very night, the two share an intimate evening picnic on an ice covered lake before returning home at dawn in each other’s arms.  When you first fall in love, everything is perfect until the day…

…you want to forget you ever met.  Their relationship has soured and the last time they spoke, Clementine stormed out following an accusation of infidelity.  Several days have passed, and Joel goes looking for Clementine with a fleeting thought of reconciliation.  He finds her but Clementine has no memory of Joel.  She underwent an experimental medical technique for the “focused erasure of troubled memories” and now has no recollection whatsoever of their time together.

In an emotive haze of rashness, Joel decides to square the ledger by undergoing the same procedure.  He meets with Dr. Howard Mierzwiak (Wilkinson) and is introduced to his team – Stan (Ruffalo), Patrick (Wood) and Mary (Dunst).  Under a strong anaesthetic, the operation begins encouragingly with the later memories of the relationship wiped away.  But as the brighter, earlier memories come back, Jim realises he doesn’t want to forget Clementine.  In an unconscious state, his only chance is to let his mind fight back against a machine determined to erase it.

Would writer Charlie Kaufman please stand up and take a bow.  He’s the best writer in the business today!  In 1999, he wrote the insanely original Being John Malkovich which told the story of a quirky officer worker who found a portal behind a filing cabinet which took you inside the mind of John Malkovich.  It was my favourite film of that year.  Two years ago, he crafted the Academy Award winning Adaptation which blurred truth and fiction like never as he himself (played by Nicolas Cage) struggled to adapt a boring novel about orchards.  My simple descriptions of these films doesn’t even scratch the surface.  There’s no way to sum up Kaufman’s deeply intricate screenplays in a single sentence.  Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind is no exception.

Perfectly complimenting Kaufman’s script is the direction of Michael Gondry.  Gondry is as original as a director as Kaufman is a writer.  It was Gondry who invented the film technique allowing several cameras to take pictures at the same time around somebody (as used in The Matrix).  He began his career making music videos and television commercials but his work here will see him feature a lot more on the big screen.  Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind is one optical illusion after the other as Gondry uses seamless special effects to lure the audience into an unthinkable world.  I also liked his timing of the opening credits.  Not to be overlooked are the spot-on performances of Kate Winslet and an unusually serious Jim Carrey.

What an amazing film.  Once you’ve seen it, there’s no way you’ll forget it.  Unless of course you pay a visit to Dr. Howard Mierzwiak…