Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Michel Gondry

BY James KeastPublished Mar 1, 2004

When the pain of heartbreak burrows deep into the core of your consciousness, at times you'd do anything to make it stop. Just get it out of there, I don't care, is how the thought process usually goes. But what if you could? What if a team of technicians could arrive in the night, while you sleep, and simply zap away all the painful memories and associations of your doomed romance? Wash that man right out of your brain, as it were.

Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) wants to do just that; he wants every memory of his relationship with Clementine Kruczynski (the fab Kate Winslet) gone forever so he can go back to what he perceived to be his peaceful life before she stumbled in, all cute and sexy with her ruffled blue hair and shock-orange sweatshirt. Fortunately, he discovers, there's a company that offers just such a service — its team of technicians (a bumbling duo of Mark Ruffalo and Elijah Wood) will pinpoint specific memories and blast them away; it's the equivalent of boozing yourself stupid and not remembering.

Eternal Sunshine is another twisted creation from the mind of writer Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation) and while his greatest successes have been projects helmed by Spike Jonze, here he connects with another video director/auteur turned feature filmmaker, Michel Gondry. Having already tackled another Kaufman adaptation, Human Nature, without as much success, here Gondry fares better because the script and his visual style are more suited to each other — or he feels more confident in putting his own spin on things.

Eternal Sunshine is a film where the delight of watching it comes largely from the surprise of its path, and as a result, it's difficult to write about without spoiling the surprise, but Gondry manages a surrealistic trip down the rabbit whole, visionary and fascinating, without overwhelming the story being told. And surprisingly, Jim Carrey is a big help along the way — his strong (and not irritating) performance is our Alice, extending a guide rope for us to all hang on to while he leads us through his internal life. (Alliance Atlantis)

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