Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind


Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; Fantasy tragicomedy, USA, 2004; D: Michel Gondry, S: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Tom Wilkinson, Kirsten Dunst, Elijah Wood, Mark Ruffalo

"Valentine's Day was invented so that people would feel like crap". The lonely Joel decides one day to spontaneously not go to work but to enter a train heading towards a beach in Montauk, where he accidentally meets the cheerful Clementine. They become a couple but then discover they already were a couple but that they erased their memory of each other at Dr. Howard's new clinic when they entered an argument. Still, they decide to give it another try.

Imaginative screenwriter Charlie Kaufman has a gift for coming up with a perfect idea for a story, but often leaves the impression as if he didn't know where to go with it half way through. Unlike pretentious Jonze, director Michel Gondry decided to form his story more subtly in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" - that got it's title from the poem "Eloisa to Abelard" by Alexander Pope - a romance fantasy which shines with cheerful performance by Kate Winslet as Clementine, but even with a refreshingly sustained Jim Carrey who is otherwise a questionable actor. The film consists out of 3 chapters. The first and the third one are fascinating. In the first, a quiet mood prevails throughout while it follows Joel how he meets Clementine on the beach on Valentine's Day. She is so full of energy she invites him into her apartment and jokingly says: "I'm definitely going to marry you!"

The scene where the two of them are lying on ice and inventing bogus names for stars in the sky is also wonderful and emotional. The third chapter just shortly repeats their encounter and brings a happy ending. Yet, unfortunately, the second, center chapter, in which Joel is erasing his memory of her, is heavily going on one's nerves. Instead of trimming it to a minimum, the authors overstretched Joel's hallucinations to agonizing 50 minutes - the most stupid scene is the one where he "hides" his (memory of) Clementine in his childhood (hoping to "save her" from the machine that erases all traces of her), so a dwarf Carrey is standing next to a giant Winslet. Utter garbage. And a pity, since it wrecks the otherwise really interesting concept where absolutely every scene in the film could just be someone's memory. "Sunshine" is a quality film, but it still make too many mistakes to remain in ideal memory. Kaufman won a BAFTA and an Oscar for best screenplay.

Grade:+++

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