Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind

2004, Movie, R, 108 mins

Review

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Acclaimed video director Michel Gondry's mindblowing fantasy, based on another outrageously audacious script by Charlie Kaufman (BEING JOHN MALKOVICH, ADAPTATION.), is almost enough to restore your faith in Hollywood. Not only is it formally innovative, but heart-tuggingly romantic and terrifically entertaining to boot. The unwieldy title is taken from Alexander Pope's poem "Eloisa to Abelard," in which the heroine, trapped in a convent and pining for her great lost love, envies the fellow nuns who, unschooled in matters of the heart, enjoy the "eternal sunshine of the spotless mind." Such ignorant bliss is now enjoyed by Clementine Kruczynski (an extraordinary Kate Winslet), who's made arrangements with a company called Lacuna Inc. to have every last memory of her ex-boyfriend, Joel Barrish (Jim Carrey), wiped from her brain. When a heartsick Joel drops into the Barnes & Noble where Clementine works, she has no idea who he is. In a fit of heartbroken pique, Joel makes an appointment to have her erased from his mind. Lacuna's procedure is actually quite simple: Using emotion-inducing relics from lives shared with former loved ones — pictures, letters, souvenirs — Lacuna employees create a memory map of clients' minds. Then, while clients sleep in the comfort of their own bed, Lacuna technicians Stan (Mark Ruffalo) and Patrick (Elijah Wood) target the troublesome memories and eradicate them. But once Joel's asleep, Stan invites his girlfriend, Laucna receptionist Mary (Kirsten Dunst), over to Joel's apartment; a couple of drinks and a few joints later, Stan and Mary are completely wasted and dancing the Twist in their underwear. Meanwhile, Patrick is off with Clementine, using Joel's discarded mementos as a roadmap to her heart. In short, no-one's paying much attention to what's happening inside Joel's head. Deciding that he no longer wants to go through with the procedure, Joel is frantically racing through the landscape of his mind, searching for a place to hide one small remembrance of the woman he still loves. The movie slides back and forth between what's happening inside Joel's head and the outside world; the effect is both disorienting and exhilarating. Memory and reality overlap and disintegrate, leading to a series of giddily surreal set-pieces that might have blown Magritte's mind. It's both a brilliant piece of visionary filmmaking and a deeply romantic love story, and while Charlie Kaufman's script will undoubtedly become required film-school reading, it's the performances that really make it play. For once, Carrey is more than merely tolerable. He's actually good, and the film that ebbs and flows around him is something you won't soon forget. leave a comment --Ken Fox

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