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Go See Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Published December 29, 2004 in DVD REVIEW
By Ryan Parsons | Images property of Focus
When Joel begins to mix memories is where Carrey shows what an actor he really is.
I have waited some time to see the Jim Carrey brainf*@k called Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Finally I have seen the film that I have heard so much about. As I sat down to watch the Carrey flick I was introduced to an introductory ten minutes that made me question the quality of the film. However, after you pass this ten-minute movie scenario [a scenario explained later], the film takes you off and keeps slamming your brain and your imagination. Eternal Sunshine draws in elements of Vanilla Sky, Memento, and Clockwork Orange to deliver a film that I can only say 'blows your mind.'

The Idea of Eternal Sunshine


The trailers for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind do nothing to explain what is happening in the film. All the previews convey is that this film is some how going to mess with your head while making you say 'cooooool' along the way. So, without giving much away, let me tell you what this story is really about...

Joel Barish [Carrey] goes to visit his love and girlfriend, Clementine [Kate Winslet], after a major fight. Joel goes to Clementine's work to find that she looks upon him as a stranger and is actually kissing another man right in front of him. 'How can this be' asks Joel with confusion of how he could have so quickly lost the love of his life. Joel's friend quickly tips him in on what has happened.

There is a doctor that has figured out a way to erase certain memories, such as those of a loved one. Joel figures out that, in an act of rage from their fight, Clementine has had all her memories of Joel erased. Joel figures he cannot go on without Clementine and realizes that he must also have his memories of her erased as well. This leads to a cool story about how the doctor erases memories and the steps a person must take to ensure that they never have any deja vu situations that may cause an erased memory to surface.

Always remember to pay your mortgage.
The erasing of Joel's memories is what most of Eternal Sunshine is about. During the procedure, Joel [who is unconscious] can hear the voices of those who are 'working' on him. The voices discuss the proceedings and how they are erasing his memories of his lost love. This is where the major problem arises; Joel has doubts and decides he does want to save his memories of Clementine. But how can he alert the crew that is working on him while he is unconscious?

Joel's only solution is to run through his memories and take a memory of Clementine to another memory that the 'doctors' wouldn't think to look in. You following me here? The doctors know all about each memory Joel has with Clementine, but they don't know all his memories. Joel figures that if he can take a memory of Clementine and associate it with a memory such as him getting embarrassed as a kid, he may just be able to retain some knowledge of Clementine and his relationship with her.

Hence begins a race where Joel runs through his memories while they are being deleted. This is where a major portion of the magic for this film comes from. The cinematography is outstanding as you see minor details on-screen slowly blur out as the 'doctors' erase them. The scene shifts are so well crafted that I was extremely appreciative of each one. They are not typical scene changes either, but a continuous shot where Joel jumps from one scene [memory] to another.

For Joel to have any chancing of re-uniting with his love, he must retain one memory.

What to Love in Eternal Sunshine


Eternal Sunshine features a wonderful cast that includes Tom Wilkinson, Elijah Wood, Kirsten Dunst, David Cross, Kate Winslet, Jim Carrey, and Mark Ruffalo
As stated above, the cinematography is amazing in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. An example scene involves a memory with Joel and Clementine in a house. Joel realizes that he cannot save this one memory and decides to just play it out with Clementine to enjoy the last few second of it. However, while the scene continues you see the house begin to break away, lose details, and slowly disappear. This works as amazing imagery to Joel 'forgetting' about that memory in that house. Truly amazing stuff.

Another cool aspect was the idea that love continues on, even after memory deletion. There are a few cases in Eternal Sunshine where we witness that love, in a deja-vu or crush manner, continues on in the people that have their memories erased. I like this idea and appreciated the purposeful attempts by Michel Gondry [director] to play this aspect out.

To be honest, there are a lot of things to like, including the small things such as the twists and what I can only call 'radical' scenes that are presented on the screen. For me to give away any more information on the film would be considered SPOILERS. And, for this film, it is better to just go see it.

Final Judgment: If you want a unique, interesting, cool, fun, focused, and straight up different film, Eternal Sunshine for the Spotless Mind is the ultimate answer. This film applies radical ideas and cinematography with what can be called the latest/newest idea of a love story. In the end you will smile and be glad you watched this film. Unless of course you were the girls that watched it with me who didn't appreciate it that much...
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Ryan Parsons
Sources: Images property of Focus
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