March 30, 2004 > Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Rated R: for language, some drug and sexual content
by Susana Nuñez
Unlike any other character Jim Carrey has ever played before, his portrayal of the introverted and passive Joel Barish in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" is simply breath taking. Alongside his eccentric opposite, Clementine Kruczynski, (Kate Winslet) a non-traditional love story unravels, with raw human emotion waiting to erupt at its core. When Clementine decides to leave Joel, she decides to not only leave Joel the person, but Joel the memory. After many futile attempts at getting Clementine back, Joel discovers that she's had him and their relationship completely erased from her memory. Instead of moving on, however, he decides to avenge himself and erase her from his memory, as well.
After his first meeting with Dr. Mierzwiak, the same doctor who "treated" Clementine at the Lacuna Inc. offices, Joel collects everything in his apartment that reminds him of Clementine and prepares for the procedure. His possessions are used by the doctor and his team, composed of Mary (Kirsten Dunst), Stan (Mark Ruffalo) and Patrick (Elijah Wood), to trigger memories of Clementine and the feelings intertwined within them. After they've finished "mapping the memory," the time to extract the memory in its entirety arrives. While the team is performing the procedure however, the good memories of their relationship become prevalent in Joel's subconscious mind, and he decides that he'd rather hold on to his memories than throw them all away. But is it too late?
The movie spirals into a maze of Joel's mind, with interconnecting memories that link him to his love. He attempts to outsmart the doctor and his team to salvage a memory of Clementine, by using his subconscious self to "hide" a memory of her in past memories that had nothing to do with their relationship. This includes dragging Clementine into a memory of when he was a toddler. The film is slightly complex, but audiences will gradually understand when incidents actually occurred and how they affect the characters' present lives.
Director Michel Gondry was inspired to create this film by a provocative idea proposed by his friend, artist Pierre Bismuth - What if you received a card in the mail that stated you had been erased from someone's memory, and that you should no longer attempt to contact them? Charlie Kaufman, who is accustomed to turning convention inside out evident in his films "Being John Malkovich" and "Adaptation," was immediately intrigued by Gondry's idea. He decided to write the screenplay, and although it took him three years, he felt comfortable knowing that he had depicted something more realistic than any other romance film. Kaufman stated, "I think I always have in mind that I want to do something that reflects what I think is true, or at least is true in my life...This [film] comes with warts and all..."
"Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" is a well-deserved breath of fresh air for moviegoers everywhere. Its originality, spontaneity, and the endearing quality of its characters give this film the artistic flair that makes it nothing short of a masterpiece.