Newest Review: ... of the film where Joel and Clementine first fall in love, as the way it happened appealed to my sense of romanticism. However, from ... more
Could you erase someone from your memory?
Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (DVD)
Member Name: pmcds
Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (DVD)
Advantages: For the most part, everything
Disadvantages: Sadly, it drags in a few places . and you have to be in the right mood
There are some films that you just need to be in the right frame of my mind to appreciate, and I think Michael Gondry's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is one of them. It's a quirky and explorative film which deals with deliberate mind wiping, a chosen and specific imposed amnesia. It does so through its characters and revolves around a company named Lacuna Inc which specialises in removing specific things or people from a memory. It's a science which is fictional, although various tests have shown there to be some possibility of future usage of this method, with a lot of research being done with regards to post traumatic stress. This is one way of looking at it, but what it also does is try to tell you that you just can't mess with fate, because it will always come back and bite you.
Joel and Clementine meet on a train journey, quite surprised by their relative familiarity with each other. Despite their obvious differences, both physically and in terms of personality, they hit it off and have a great date together. In a confusing switch of sequences, we see the two of them enjoying a date together and a relationship blooms, before she completely ignores him one day. He soon finds out that a company called Lacuna Inc has deleted all memories she has of him, at her request, and is devastated, undertaking to do the same with regards to her. However, as her flicks through his memories, he realises this isn't what he wants after all, and fights to stop a process that seems to catch him at every turn.
In a twist of psychological games, the film takes place largely in Joel's mind, with actor Jim Carrey giving an excellent performance in a serious role for once. He's actually a very good actor when he's not larking around, and I was impressed by his portrayal of a timid and shy man who is rather reclusive and actually pretty boring. The quirky nature of the film and the unstable nature of where in time we are as well as where we're viewing things from actually suits his style very well. The same is the case for Kate Winslet, a wonderful kooky Clementine who pretty much steals the show. As events transpire in Joel's head and he fights against the team of mind wipers doing what they think he wants, it's the popup memories that make the biggest difference in viewing enjoyment. Gondry uses a variety of styles to keep things mixing up as we're confronted with different ways in which the memories come, go and are fought to be deleted or saved, depending on which perspective we're looking at it from. Scenes fade in and out, people sizzle away, light comes and goes to denote memories being erased, and Joel races to ways of second guessing the erasers of Lacuna. We even get to see him effectively have an out of body experience as he regresses in memory, seeing himself in the room where they're 'operating'.
The cast forming the members of Lacuna also give a good subplot. Tom Wilkinson, Kirsten Dunst and Mark Ruffalo lend their impressive credentials to the roles, all of them doing a good job, and some of the little elements going on between these characters are as interesting as the main plot, which serves well as a distraction. A solid hour and a half or thereabouts of the same mind regression would have been a bit too much regardless of the cleverness in scripting, direction and acting. Here, as a result of the strong subplot, the variety means the main plot is that much stronger. Sure, it's really quirky, and more of a philosophical and psychological exploration of the human mind and what we'd get if we asked to have bits of our memory erased. The underlying message is that you can't mess with fate, and even though there are a few clever twists and turns, you soon learn to not be surprised by the way events reveal themselves and how links are made between the various characters. It's kind of like a cross between Memento and The Running Man, with a little bit of Being John Malkovich thrown in for good measure.
I largely enjoyed this, and felt it was an incredibly well created, written, acted and directed film for the most part. However, it's not perfect, as there are moments where you feel the romantic side of it just drags a little bit too much. I'd still recommend it as this doesn't spoil it by any means, but it does stop it short of being beautifully balanced, and this I found was a disappointment. There's a lot to think about here, and it's certainly a film I'd recommend watching, but you have to be in a patient mood, and it'll certainly make you think.
Summary: Carrey and Winslet have a bit of a weird relationship!