Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind

"Very Good"

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind Review


Having dabbled in John Malkovich's mind in "Being John Malkovich," then delved into his own neurotic noggin in "Adaptation," ingeniously idiosyncratic screenwriter Charlie Kaufman wraps his head around themes of lucid-dreaming and lost love in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," and once again hits the Freudian jackpot.

A melancholy metaphysical romance about how human beings are the sum of their experiences, this distinctively surreal, meditative fable takes place largely inside the rapidly dissolving memories of a dejected sad sack named Joel Barish (Jim Carrey), who hopes to end a crippling case of heartbreak by having his ex-girlfriend (Kate Winslet) electronically expunged from his cerebellum in a makeshift CAT-scan procedure performed by a dubious back-alley doctor (Tom Wilkinson) and his nerdy house-call technicians.

To augment the film's sublimely disorienting narrative -- parts of which run backwards as Joel's discordant recent memories are boiled away before his more melodious earlier ones -- director Michel Gondry opens with an unsteady shot of Joel wobbling out of his unfolded sofa-bed on Valentine's Day 2004, the morning after his selective lobotomy.

Disoriented, downcast, and inexplicably compelled to visit a Long Island beach on this frigid February day, he meets an alluringly prickly blue-haired girl (Kate Winslet) -- and soon "Sunshine" (the title comes from an Alexander Pope poem) is juggling their curious attraction with the curiouser events of the previous night, during which two techies (Mark Ruffalo and Elijah Wood) blunder their plunder of Joel's frustrating, furious and fond recollections...of the very same girl.

But during the erasure of their broken romance from his gray matter (while in a drug-educed deep sleep that February 13 night), Joel has a dream-state change of heart. Inside his subconscious, he seeks out a disintegrating apparition of his blue-tressed Clementine (Winslet), and together they conspire to hide her in the deepest recesses of his mind -- places the doctor's brain-scouring flunkies hopefully won't think to look.

Gondry (who helmed Kaufman's "Human Nature" in 2002 with less success) lends the movie a discombobulating, highly personal, single-camera ambiance as he intricately interlaces Joel's mad dash through his melding, melting memories (symbolized by creative blurring and pull-focus imagery) with overlapping events in the real world -- namely that his mental mish-mashing has set off medical alarms and panicked the lackadaisical technicians.

Carrey is at his Method best in "Sunshine," completely submerged in Joel's battered, bemused psyche as he fights his own ironic defeatism to rescue his memories of Clementine -- be they euphoric, erotic or anguished. Winslet matches Carrey emotion for erratic emotion, from frustrating heartbreak to wistful adoration as their relationship is deconstructed in reverse -- starting with the excruciating revelation that kicks off the plot: Clementine had Joel erased from her memory first.

The supporting cast is exceptional as well, each adding peculiar facets to the plot, including one technician's unethical attempt to seduce the memory-wiped Clementine using mementos and romantic recollections stolen from Joel as psychological fish hooks, and an unexpected twist involving the doctor's receptionist, played by Kirsten Dunst with delicate hints of emotional instability that point to something subliminally amiss in her mind as well.

But it isn't the cunning intricacy of the screenplay, the fancifully fractured psychology or even the shrewd dark humor that make this movie -- it's the insightful emotional candor that Kaufman brings to this story of two people who may be truly fated for each other, but for whom happiness does not come easily or forever after.

Charlie Kaufman may be the only screenwriter in the world who's a bigger draw for his movies than the actors that star in them -- and it's no wonder when he can take you on such an uncanny, cerebrally emotional fun-house ride as "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind."



Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind

Facts and Figures

Run time: 108 mins

In Theaters: Friday 19th March 2004

Box Office USA: $34.1M

Box Office Worldwide: $72M

Budget: $20M

Distributed by: Focus Features

Production compaines: Focus Features, Anonymous Content, This Is That Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Fresh: 216 Rotten: 16

IMDB: 8.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Joel Barish, as Clementine Kruczynski, as Patrick, as Stan, as Mary, as Dr. Howard Mierzwiak, Ryan Whitney as Young Joel, as Carrie, as Joel's mother, as Rob, Gerry Robert Byrne as Train Conducter, Brian Price as Young Bully, as Young Bully, Paul Litowsky as Young Bully, Lola Daehler as Young Clementine, Amir Ali Said as Young Bully, Deirdre O'Connell as Hollis, Lauren Adler as Rollerblader

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

The 2012 Canadian comedy Goon was one of those surprising little films that snuck up...

Detroit Movie Review

Detroit Movie Review

After The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal reteam to...

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Good news: Steven Soderbergh's well-publicised retirement from directing only lasted about four years. He's back...

American Made Movie Review

American Made Movie Review

An enjoyably freewheeling tone and Tom Cruise's star wattage combine to make this an entertaining...

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

It's been a decade since Al Gore's wake-up-call documentary won the Oscar. And here he...

Advertisement
The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

It really doesn't matter that this movie is utterly ridiculous, because the central pairing of...

Final Portrait Movie Review

Final Portrait Movie Review

A relaxed, amusing true story about noted Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti, this sharply...

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Finnish artist Tuoko Laaksonen used the name "Tom of Finland" as he drew explicit illustrations...

A Ghost Story Movie Review

A Ghost Story Movie Review

Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

From the co-director of John Wick, this similarly styled action romp puts Charlize Theron front...

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.