Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) (R)
This review contains some SPOILERS
I have long been a fan/non-fan of Charlie Kaufman. The man is either great or horrible to me, there's no luke-warm spot in this man. I'm either totally in love with the movies that his screenplays are based on, or I hate them with a passion. Take "Being John Malkovich" which I think was brilliant versus "Adaptation" which I thought was the bane of 'comedy' films. Part of me feels bad because I didn't know that "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" was a Kaufman film; but once you're into the thick of things there is no denying that this film came from the mind of Charlie Kaufman.
Kaufman films, as a general rule, like to play with the idea of reality and perception.
"Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" is one such film that you should know absolutely nothing about before you see it. I challenge you, don't watch any trailers or look it up online, but you need to go out and see this movie now.
I labeled this review with "spoiler" because I think that I might unwittingly reveal something about the movie that would ruin a person's experience.
Joel and Clementine are two people that fall in love and begin a wacky relationship that seems to embody all relationships, albeit in an exaggerated form.
Joel is the more reserved of the two, caring a little more about how he is seen and what people think of him. Clementine, on the other hand, is much more of a free spirit, dyeing her hair unnatural colors and doing what she wants to do.
These two make the most boldly original on-screen couple that I have yet to see.
But this movie isn't just a romance, the complexity is what really boggles my mind. Maybe the idea of the movie is simple enough, but the execution is stellar and brave. What I really liked about the movie was how it doesn't make any compromises. It's its own movie.
I believe about half an hour into the movie I was still asking my friend, who was showing me the movie, "What's going on? I want to understand, but I can't."
And so my energy kept spiking and I kept wondering what was going on and then....ah, the beautiful reveal. But what this movie does that so many of its counterparts don't is how it handles the reveal. The movie isn't about figuring what's going on, yes, that's a part of it; but when everything is explained it leaves that behind and builds on what knowledge is now known—typical Kaufman.
The style in which it is shot is exquisitely intimate and yet epic in the same breath.
Jim Carrey plays Joel and his co-stars have big recognition for being drama actors but he really carries this movie on his own. He restrains himself so that there are no "Carrey outbursts" although I kept waiting for them. "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" has its wacky moment but they are all believable and well-constructed.
Kate Winslet plays the enigmatic Clementine with the nature of a real woman—she doesn't fall into any cliches with the role.
I cannot say enough about how this movie really, really surprised me and how much I love it.
Near the middle of the movie I turned to my friend and said, "This is brilliant!" Not many movies can blow you away like "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" did to me.
It definitely goes on my list of best movies ever made because it certainly is one.
Score: 4 out of 4 stars
Posted by Micah Jones