Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Michel Gondry
scr Charlie Kaufman
with Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Tom Wilkinson, Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood, Jane Adams, David Cross, Dierdre O'Connell, Ryan Whitney, Lola Daehler, Debbon Ayer
release US 19.Mar.04; UK 30.Apr.04
Focus 04/US 1h48

Try to remember: Winslet and Carrey (above); Ruffalo and Wood (below).
See also:
carrey winslet dunst

24th Shadows Awards

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Support Shadows: Buy a Poster
Charlie Kaufman is on a roll. After his cerebral, inventive and entertaining screenplays for Being John Malkovich, Human Nature and Adaptation, he comes up with this astonishing tale about memory and relationships. It a gorgeous, deeply affecting film that works like a visual poem with razor sharp writing and some of the best acting yet from a powerhouse cast.

When his relationship with Clementine (Winslet) ends, Joel Barish (Carrey) discovers Lacuna Inc, which has developed a treatment to erase specific memories, easing the pain of grief or a break-up. So Joel decides to erase Clementine from his mind, with the help of the Lacuna team (office manager Dunst, doctor Wilkinson and technicians Ruffalo and Wood). But as the procedure takes place, Joel sees his relationship with Clementine in a new light, jumbled and out of order as the staff work to erase it ... in between coping with their own relational carnage!

This is a staggeringly well-written screenplay, making subtle but profound observations about the power of memory and the nature of relationships ... all while telling a beautiful little story. And Gondry captures it on screen with artistry and inventiveness; it's never flashy, even though almost every shot has some sort of digital trickery going on as we weave in and out of Joel's brain. Meanwhile, the cast play it note perfect. This is easily Carrey's strongest work yet. He never plays to the camera; this is an internalised role and he takes us deep inside Joel. And Winslet gets to play wonderfully against type (and to finally nail that pesky American accent spot on) with the unpredictable, fascinating and literally colourful Clementine. Ruffalo and Wood are hilariously memorable in their offbeat roles, while Dunst and Wilkinson put witty spins on characters we've seen them play before.

Like Being John Malkovich, this film has a melancholy that balances the surreal wackiness. Not really a comedy, even though it's sometimes quite funny, it's more like a thoughtful, internalised romance, picking apart the human mind and how it deals with other people. But most importantly, it can actually help us take a step back and look at our relationships through fresh eyes. Brilliant.

one of Shadows' all-time best films 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

cert 15 themes, language, innuendo 24.Feb.04

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... eternal sunshine of the spotless mind Sue, California: 5/5 "I loved this film. It touched me down deep, where I cried from the pain of a wound that was thankfully reopened. For anyone who's dared to fully recall how really good the good parts were from a failed love affair, this is bound to strike a rich chord. For those who've voluntarily erased those parts, this may give you the courage to go there now, finally. Like the saying 'better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all' this story invites you to stay open to the lessons that inevitably come in the aftermath of a love turned sour. For those who are still in the midst of a great but messy affair of the heart, perhaps this will story will challenge you to at least look a little longer before you leap." (20.Mar.04) eternal sunshine of the spotless mind

Jared Rodriguez, New York: 5/5 "Definately the best movie this year along with Gibson's Passion. Eternal Sunshine leaves you with your jaw dropped and a newfound respect for the ones you love." (20.Mar.04)

Kappie, net: 4.5/5 "An exceptional piece of work, most certainly for Jim Carrey, definitely his best film of all time, in the perspective of 'meeting the challenge'. An excellent all around plot, that plays out very nicely. Although the side plot may have been a bit shallow, all the lines converge in the end." (20.Mar.04) eternal sunshine of the spotless mind

Mandy Clark, Albany, Oregon: 5/5 "Jim Carrey, along with Kate Winslet, shines in this perfect reflection of budding relationships and impulsive break-ups. This movie proves there is such a thing as soulmates. This was the best movie I've seen in so long." (22.Mar.04)

Ryan, Los Angeles: 2/5 "Not totally without interest but ultimately this gimmick of a movie is much ado about nothing. just because jim carrey isn't shamelessly mugging for the camera doesn't mean it's a good performance (though it's not entirely his fault that the role of Joel Barish is thankless). for all of the energy exerted here in Carrey trying to save his love affair, the filmmakers forgot a crucial element: a believable love affair in the first place." (22.Mar.04)

© 2004 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall