Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Movie Review: Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (2004)
Weird and thought-provoking, The Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind explores the intertwining destiny and meaning of relationships through a warped mirror. From the uniquely creative mind of screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, the film lingers in the memory long after the credits fade.
Introverted and awkward Joel (Jim Carrey) does not seem to have anything going for him in life until he meets and falls in love with free-spirited Clementine (Kate Winslet). Although initially they seem perfect for each other, the relationship sours over time, and they grow frustrated with each other. On a whim, Clementine retains the services of a dodgy agency named Lacuna Inc. and erases Joel from her memory, leaving him devastated.
Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey are unforgettable as Clementine and Joel, a couple either meant to be together or doomed to heap misery on each other. Winslet gives Clementine by far the more dominant personality, shooting determination from searing eyes and expressing her mood with ever-changing, never subtle hair colours. Carrey demonstrates his latent talent beyond slapstick comedy, his subdued Joel an insecure man beaten down by an unfulfilling life and surrendering to forces that he has long since abandoned any expectation of controlling.
Where Kaufman could have done better is in providing more of a backstory for Joel and Clementine. The two central characters are only introduced in the context of their relationship, and precious little else is revealed about their backgrounds. For all their travails, they remain vaguely detached as characters deserving of empathy: without each other, Kaufman provides few reasons to care for them.
Director Michel Gondry, with deep roots in the music video and commercial industries, has the perfect experience to perfectly balance Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind between charming and unhinged. Most of the film thrives on an unending barrage of quick cuts and dizzying visual effects, but Gondry assembles it in a manner that recalls the matter-of-factness of a dream, where incredible events are just normal.
The film asks whether emotion-packed relationships can ever be truly left behind, and whether to love and experience deep hurt is better or worse than never loving at all. In the most roundabout way, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind presents the argument that although the pain is sometimes unbearable, the great loves of life are indeed eternal.
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