"Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless
Directed by Michael Gondry.
Written by Charlie Kaufman.
Starring Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst and Tom
Release Year: 2004
Review Date: 4/11/04
Ahh, the movies...it's good to be back!
So, I took in the latest effort from that
wacko of a writer, Charlie Kaufman, the kind soul that gave us such
wacko classics as
"Being John Malkovich" and
This time, in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", it's a
romantic tale that skips around so much that my head is still
spinning...and worse, I am still unearthing details of just how many
times Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) had his memory wiped, since I thought
it was just once.
Here's the deal: Joel had a great
relationship with this girl named Clementine (Kate Winslet), but as
things go, their love soured and they broke up. Now,
Clementine wanted to get over Joel quick, so she went to a company
in New York that performs brainwashing of a permanent variety--they
wipe your memory of various people, places or pets by collecting
information to map out what parts of your brain need to be
formatted, kinda like a hard drive. She had the wipe
done...and then saw Joel at a bookstore, and didn't recognize him.
Confused by this, Joel finds out about the
brainwashers, led by a pioneer named Howard (Tom Wilkinson), and
Joel decides to have Clementine wiped from his memory. We
spend the rest of the movie going through Joel's memories of all
things Clementine...but, as we move from the present through the
past, Joel realizes that he doesn't want to lose all of the memories
of the happy times, but is it too late?
Bouncing between Joel's past with
Clementine, memories he had without her, and the brainwashing staff
that is supposed to be focused on cleaning Joel's head, "Eternal
Sunshine..." has a lot of work to do in just two hours, and it is a
mixed bag. The performances can't be questioned, though.
Carrey is amazing once again as Joel, mixing elements of the Nic
Cage performance from "Adaptation." and classic Carrey bits,
especially in hilarious sequences where his Joel has to relive
moments outside of his relationship with Clementine. Oh, that
bit where he is fighting with those kids is an instant classic!!
Winslet is solid as well, and how great is it to see Elijah Wood
back in the real world? Even the bit players give their
sequences some weight; former Oscar nominee Wilkinson (for
Bedroom") and Mark Ruffalo work subtle magic as the brainwashers who
try to rid Joel of his memories.
But, kind of like "Being John Malkovich" for
me, I don't see the genius in trying to move around so much as to
confuse the commonfolk, which I was falling into as I watched Joel
try to relive his memories but in some cases, attempt to change
them...in fact, there comes a point in the story where some of the
logic the movie has established goes out the window, and I jumped
right the fuck out the window with it. This led to a couple of
those shared "What the fuck?" looks when I got out of the theater; I
really don't know, between Joel and Clementine, how many times they
had their brains wiped, and little bits like a comment in the doc's
office ("Sorry, ma'am, you can't have the procedure done three times
in one year") are leading me to rethink my conclusions even as I
write this. In the case of
"Memento", that was cool, because
it was kind of a mystery.
In "Eternal Sunshine", I'm not so sure I
even care to know, and that is a little frustrating. Still,
the movie did resonate with me on some levels; even with the women
that I have dated, when things don't work out there are some often
beautiful moments that have been shared even if I was sent the Trik
Template eventually. And, the last girl I dated in San
Francisco was a lot like the Clementine character, so in Joel I saw
some interesting parallels as he took small risk after small risk to
create a comfortable romantic atmosphere between the twosome.
Too bad the movie had to go all sci-fi on me.
Rating: $9.50 Show
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard