Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind

June 1, 2010
Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind is truly a one-of-a-kind movie. Incredibly innovative, intelligent, charming, and extremely well-written, the film is the product of the teamwork between creative director Michel Gondry and ingenious screenwriter Charlie Kaufman. Though I hadn't been familiar with Gondry's work before this film, I absolutely loved his distinct style in this film which really blended together nicely with Kaufman's style. These two geniuses have come together and crafted a film that isn't just an emotionally-charged great film, but a film that's possibly one of the best movies to come out in the past decade.

In the movie, we follow the relationship between an emotionally withdrawn man, Joel Barish, and a dysfunctional free spirit, Clementine Kruczynsk. The two meet, the sparks fly, and a romantic relationship is soon formed between the two individuals, despite their vastly different personalities. It's difficult to say more about the film without giving too much away, but the audience soon learns that Clementine has erased all of her memories of Joel through an obscure mind-wiping clinic in Boston. Highly upset by this, Joel decides to wipe his memories of Clementine in order that he may be able to move on. However, a bit after the operation's started, Joel abruptly changes his mind, instead wanting to keep his memories of the sweet time he had with Clementine. The rest of the film alternates between Joel's mind - where he relives his memories while trying to find a way to keep them - and Joel's apartment room, where three of the clinic's workers attempt to pass the time during the operation.

Right from the start, this film makes you feel for the characters. Whether it's because of Charlie Kaufman's phenomenal script or because of Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet's amazing performances, the film is able to suck you in very quickly. We feel for these people, flawed as they both may be, and watching their relationship grow, in Joel's mind and in the initial "first meeting", makes for some truly satisfying filmmaking. Even the supporting cast of the clinic workers are incredibly likable, providing the occasional bit of comic relief during an otherwise melancholy film. They're far from useless or boring, and their stories soon turn out to be just as important as Joel and Clementine's.

The cinematography is awe-inspiring, to say the least. From Joel's distorted mind to the events occurring in the film's reality, everything in this movie looks absolutely beautiful. The beaches, the trains, the stores - the film has a visual quality that's truly top-notch. The innovation in the film is especially noteworthy, as the transitioning from Joel's mind to the real world is just impeccable. For instance, there's a scene where Joel's recollecting how he first met up with the brain-wiped Clementine at her job in Barnes & Noble. As he struggles with understanding what has just occurred, we see the lights go out in the store and Joel walk out of the store and into his friends' living room, as he subsequently finishes his story. I could go on about some of these scenes - like the beach house falling apart, the transitioning during Joel's childhood memories, the blurriness and deletion of words during Joel's mind-wipe - but the film speaks for itself.

Also, never once does this film ever drag or become boring in some way. Always, the film remains fresh, creative, interesting, and engrossing. To find a dull moment in this film would be a monumental task, as everything in the script seems to be timed to the utmost of perfection. Some may dislike the disorientation of Joel's mind - though I can't see why, as it's incredibly fascinating - but even those who dislike the cerebral elements can't help but feel the movie's emotional core.

Personally, I found the movie to be absolutely flawless. I've seen a few other reviews and complaints about this film, but all of the accusations fall completely flat. Too many characters? That's not even a worthy fault to consider for rebuttal. Useless characters? Please, all of the film's characters serve a purpose in some way. If you're going to fault the film with accusations like those, then you might as well fault Shakespeare as well, seeing as he had plenty of "useless" supporting characters. Even from a writer's point of view, adding in a supporting cast simply makes perfect sense. Creating a perfect three-act story that solely focuses on two individuals isn't just a daunting task, but a virtually impossible one.

Nextly, for those confused by the film's "timeline", know that there shouldn't be much to be confused about. It's quite easy to differentiate between the real world and Joel's mind in the film, and it should be remembered that the latter setting is, actually, just that- Joel's *mind*. He's not timetraveling or changing the past, but simply reliving moments from his life as he remembers them. It's certainly cerebral, but not at all confusing. As for those who criticize the scene in which the beach house falls apart, know that, again, this is a cerebral sequence and film. The beach house didn't literally fall apart in Joel's memories, but it is falling apart in his subconscious. It's the end of an era for Joel, and the sadness that comes from that moment should explain perfectly why everything's "falling apart" in Joel's mind.

A perfect film in every way, Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind is just as enjoyable as it is intellectual, sweet, and creative. One of the select films from the past decade that'll definitely be remembered for years to come.

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