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Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry)

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004, Michel Gondry)

Another mind-bending script by Charlie Kaufman paired with another hip music-video director (Gondry this time instead of the terminally cool Spike Jonze), one would think that this tale of a couple who’ve had their memories of each other erased would be another slick, hilarious, braintwisting romp.

One would be wrong. Oh, it’s funny in parts, and it’s definitely thought-provoking, but more on a Blade Runner level–if we had the technology to do this, would we? And is it right? And is love deeper than memories?

Eternal Sunshine stars Jim Carrey in what is easily his best role (one wonders if he’s had Ace Ventura wiped from his mind) as Joel, who is desperate to get over his gorgeously zany ex-girlfriend, Clementine, played by Kate Winslet. Clementine, ever impulsive, has had Joel wiped from her brain, and is now seeing one of the lab technicians from Lacuna, Inc., the company that did the wiping. Elijah Wood proves he’s not stuck as Frodo and manages to be creepy and pathetic all at once. Joel decides to have Clementine erased from his mind as well, but mid-procedure, while the techs (Mark Ruffalo and Kirsten Dunst) get drunk, eat his food, and make out in his easy chair, he decides that some memories are too precious to lose, even if they hurt.

The best parts of this movie are inside Joel’s head, when he begins to realize what’s going on and attempts to hide Clementine in memories that the techs won’t find her in. In between the laughs, though, are small, poignant vignettes of a relationship that, while troubled, contained real love. Carrey and Winslet bring to life these all-too human, imperfect people.

While Adaptation gloried in the larger-than-life, Eternal Sunshine manages to make even the sci-fi aspects of its story lifelike. Carrey for once is not over-the-top, and manages even to be convincingly boring, and Winslet manages to make a somewhat cartoonish character with a different Crayola-bright hair color each week into a fragile, lovable woman. It feels real, and is the kind of love story I’ve been begging for after tons of Romeo and Juliet, La Boheme style tragic romances. Clementine and Joel aren’t perfect, and their relationship isn’t, either. But after watching this movie, I’m reminded of how precious even bad memories can be.


Now Playing at the Mayan Theater – go to for showtimes


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