STARRING: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Tom Wilkinson, Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood, Kirsten Dunst, Thomas Jay Ryan, Jane Adams, David Cross, Gerry Robert Byrne

2004, 108 Minutes, Directed by Michel Gondry

Description: A guy decides to have the memories of his ex-girlfriend erased after she's had him erased from her own memory--but midway through the procedure, he changes his mind and struggles to hang on to their experiences together.  —

I didn’t really get into Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (just Eternal Sunshine from here on, all right?) until about three-quarters into the movie. Then the movie achieved a sort of sad poignancy that is rare in most of today’s Hollywood offerings.

Eternal Sunshine has a kind of authenticity in that despite its fantastical premise (people’s minds can be wiped of unpleasant memories!), it seems to be informed by real experience and genuine emotion. I guess I’m trying to say here is that it seems as if screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (of Being John Malkovich fame) took aspects from his own life and relationships and dumped them into this movie. This is rather rare nowadays in Hollywood. (Compare for instance the characters and situations in this movie to the recent Butterfly Effect.)

About the only writer/director who makes similarly personal films is Woody Allen. For the rest Hollywood movies seemed to be populated by walking props, mostly cardboard cut-out figures made to stand next to the special effects. If Hollywood movies have real stars nowadays, then they are the CGI special effects wizards rather than the people made to awkwardly interact with their creations.

"Achieves a sort of sad poignancy that is rare in most Hollywood movies . . ."

From the above you’d think that I liked Eternal Sunshine more than I ultimately did. And while I admired the way the screenplay stuck to its own dogged logic and the clever dialogue simply outshone almost anything else, I found something lacking in the movie. Perhaps it was the main actors – who while doing an admirable job – never quite managed in imbuing their characters with the life and energy that makes us believe in them as lovers meant for each other.

You see, while Jim Carrey manages to repress every facial tic and shenanigan that he regularly employs in his comic roles, his performance comes across as so muted that one wishes that he would actually let it rip once in a while! Winslet too gives a workman-like performance, but to be honest she never really comes to life as the complicated waif she is supposed to be.

Ultimately while I found bits of Eternal Sunshine to be quite good, the movie as a whole didn’t exactly gel for me. Maybe it was a case of heightened expectations, but I must admit to being slightly disappointed by the film. This does not however mean that I won’t recommend the film. It is recommended for anyone who feels like something “different” and original for a change, who is tired of brain-dead emotion-free special effects flicks like Van Helsing. Anyone expecting another Truman Show or Being John Malkovich just might walk out of the cinema disappointed . . .

Oh yeah, here's the quote from the Alexander Pope ("Eloisa to Abelard") poem from which the title is taken:

How happy is the blameless vestal's lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd.



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