ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE
Reviewed by Barbara Fielding
How happy is the blameless vestal's lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot,
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
--Eloisa to Abelard by Alexander Pope
ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND is a dark, off-kilter romantic comedy with two very eccentric characters. The twice-nominated screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (ADAPTATION and BEING JOHN MALKOVICH) created this strange and thought provoking tale.
Joel (Jim Carrey), a depressed loner, and Clementine (Kate Winslet), a blue haired siren, have a desperate love affair. The relationship ends badly and Clementine goes to Lacuna Corporation to have her memory of Joel erased. Joel is devastated when he runs into Clementine at the bookstore where she works and she acts as if she doesn't even know him. When he discovers he's been erased from her memory, he decides to have the same procedure done to relieve him of the painful memories of their affair. But halfway through the procedure Joel wakes up and decides he doesn't want to erase Clementine after all.
Three techies (Elijah Wood, Kirsten Dunst, Mark Raffalo) monitor Joel as he goes through his mind swipe and they soon realize something has gone wrong--that Joel is hiding his memories from them. Inside his mind Joel is on a chase as he tries to elude the mind erasers and hang on to some memory of Clementine. They call in their supervisor (Tom Wilkinson) who helps them finish the job. But during the procedure one of the techies (Kirsten Dunst) discovers something that disturbs her. She immediately resigns from Lacuna and raids the client files, returning the audio tape record of all their memories.
ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND is a disjointed romp though the chaotic and painful memories of two lovers. It's a thought provoking premise and told in a visually colorful display, however I would have enjoyed it better if the story had unfolded in a straightforward way. The scenes jump from past to present and back again in such a way that I was lost many times. Other critics and viewers have called this film groundbreaking and brilliant, but I found it only slightly romantic and mildly amusing.
January 2005 Review
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