There are movies that makes one want to rave for days on end to any and all who’d listen about all the things it does right.
Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind is one such movie.
For those of you who only devour new movies, Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind is an old old movie released way back in 2004. To provide some context as to how old that is, 2004 was when “Friends”, the TV show, aired its last episode.
Jim Carrey portrays (and masterfully I might add) Joel, a lonely man who looks to be in his thirties. He meets Clementine, played by THE Kate Winslet, who is as different from Joel as an 80’s punk rock chick is from a 50’s housewife. Characterized by her ever-changing hair colors, Clementine embarks on a romance with Joel. But not all is well and after a year or so, they grow tired of each other and they part ways.
But Clementine, in an effort to completely move on, books an appointment at Lacuna Inc., a medical office that can erase select memories from your brain and yep, you guessed it, Clementine wants Joel erased from her brain.
In the process however, one of the technicians falls for her and asks her out once her memory (pertaining to Joel) is reset. So far so good.
But then Joel, agonizing in the death throes of post-breakup depression, goes in search of her and what does he find? That’s right, that she’s moved on and actually medically erased all memories of him from her own brain. Angry and frustrated he confronts Lacuna Inc. and in a moment of vengeance, decides he wants to erase memories of Clementine from his brain. So under the consultation of the doctor at Lacuna, he collects every object in his house that relates to Clementine (which includes doodles, coffee mugs and unopened jewelry gifts) so as to purge his house. He then starts the procedure.
And this is where it gets confusing. The movie takes the watchers on first hand tour of Joel’s brain as he’s having his memory wiped and assuredly, it gets creepy, schizophrenic, frantic, panicky and weird. Scenes melt away into others, faceless strangers haunt Joel, menacing shadows chase after him, body doubles talk to him, gets shrunk into his childhood memories and a whole lot of other shit that is both enthralling and downright disturbing.
This is where Jim Carrey shines, his increasingly fragile state of mind breaks through and he commences, his most mature, talented and difficult piece of work since perhaps ‘The Truman Show’. Words cannot describe the amount of emotion he portrays. But it’s not raw screaming emotion, it’s eye-twitching, hair raising under the skin emotion that is bubbling beneath his face, itching to burst out but just manages to slink back down. It’s a masterful performance and in his light, not even Kate Winslet’s electric performances compares.
As mentioned before, the rest of the cast all deliver faithful performances, particularly Kirsten Dunst and Elijah Wood. Kirsten Dunst’s later roles in the Spider Man trilogy, quite frankly, are a waster of talent as she does more acting in this single movie than she does in all three of them combined. Elijah Wood proves much the same in his portrayal of a young technician, torn between his desire for love and acceptance at work. And Mark Ruffalo is Mark Ruffalo.
The writing of the movie is masterful, the dialogue ranges from light, flashy and sparklingly funny to downright depressing and dark. Moments of hilarity are quickly interspersed with impending doom with just a mention of a word. It’s genius, it’s genius, it’s genius.
The production of the movie is brilliant and adds the extra dimension needed to propel this already good movie to the height of brilliance. The camera work is revolutionary, considering the time period the movie was shot in and the effects that are used to transition from scene to scene, often in disturbing ways, is amazing. Sometimes they’re subtle and sometimes they’re so abrupt, they literally make you jump. Running in tandem is the soundtrack of the movie, which is appropriately uplifting at times and ominous and deep in others. This is movie scoring done right and I would definitely chalk this up to one of the Best Scored Movies of All Time.
Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Movie is ageless, narrating a love story that part comedy, part tragedy. It delights us, it torments, it amazes us and yes, at times, even frightens us. And more than anything else, it’s a sparklingly fresh take on the tired old ‘getting together’ recipe that will haunt you even after ending scene.