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Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

A comedic romance film written by Charlie Kaufman, directed by Michel Gonfry, and starring Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet.

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Love hurts; as do painful memories. But we must still cling on to them.

  • Sep 17, 2011
**** out of ****

We remember a lot of good things in life; that, as I believe, is given. We remember because we want to, and because these are the moments that ultimately save us in times of doubt or depression. I have embraced the times; no matter how hard they may be. I've enjoyed myself plenty and am content, but those not-so-good memories will linger forevermore. They cannot be avoided; they can be forgotten, easily through healing and otherwise with at least a little bit of a struggle. I have as many painful memories as the average human being should have, and you know what; I don't regret them.

Why would I? Such memories allowed me to invest emotionally in Michel Gondry's brilliant "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"; which is the artistic creation of both Gondry and his writer, the exquisite Charlie Kaufman, who penned "Being John Malkovich". Here, he's wrote yet another relatable and unique work of dramatic fiction; blending the romance with the psychedelic style of its filmmaker. Everything is in place; everything works. I guess the most I can say is that expect the unexpected, when going into the film, and you'll have a good trip. Cinematic trips, on their own, are not for everyone; and this film is no exception. However, I believe that there is an audience that will greatly appreciate Kaufman's warped vision; and cherish it just as I have. This is my third visit to the movie's surreal labyrinths, sidewalks, city-streets, and bookstores. And there doesn't appear to be a rest stop.

I enjoy stories of the shy men of this world over the ones where everything seems to work out for the best; all the way through. Being a genuine shy-guy myself, I can relate to such characters. One to put on my "Top Ten Shy-Guy Movie Characters of All Time" list would be the film's central lonely man Joel (Jim Carrey). This man is definitely lonely. We see him ditching work to walk beaches and work on both his notebook writings and illustrations in the beginning of the film, where he is most properly introduced. Out of the blue, he meets the beautiful, eccentric, and seemingly flawless Clementine (Kate Winslet), a fearless spirit of a woman with blue hair and a heart of gold. The two seem to have some chemistry from the start, and so begins their romantic escapades.

But what's this? Cut from a happy, romantic scene involving the two to a shot of Joel alone in his car, with tears in his eyes; complete with music that's just sad, sad, sad (mind you, this also happens to be music that Joel chucks out the car window into the pouring rain). We learn that he had visited Clementine at work one day, only to have her treat him like a total strangers, instead taking a romantic liking to a younger man. Joel learns that this was the result of a brain procedure, performed by the workers at a fictional company known as Lacuna Incorporated. Clementine asked for her painful memories of a once-great relationship to be erased by the staff. She got her wish; and now, Joel will get his. We are taken through Joel's memories; most of Clementine, some of childhood, and several of out-right embarrassment. The story is therefore told in a non-linear structure, but I feel this is appropriate, given that we are inside the mind of an individual, and memories, much like dreams, need no proper structure if we're constantly flipping through them like pages in a storybook.

I suppose "whimsical" is a decent word to bring up when thinking of the film. Joel and Clementine's romantic relationship is believable and sweet without feeling emotionally melodramatic or forced. I appreciated the film because it was able to uphold many stories at once. What about the two Lacuna employees (Mark Ruffalo and Elijah Wood)? What about the failed, past relationship between fellow employee Mary (Kirsten Dunce) and her boss (Tom Wilkinson)? Charlie Kaufman's script brings emotional gravity to a story that could have done so much worse (believe me, I've seen it happen), and the performances allow each character to be sympathetic. These aren't sad people; they are human beings, just like you and me, who were once desperate, and are forever remembering; some perhaps more than others.

Any romance that deals with memory eraser is certainly not a typical or particularly familiar one. The idea is creative, and the storytelling methods (dream-like memory sequences, flash-backs, real-time situations with the Lacuna workers) work ingeniously well with the tale that is trying to be told here. I laughed, and in moments, I found myself almost crying. It is in moments like these that I get the sense that "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" is a special movie, and a special drama, one of the best for its genre. While that's saying a lot; the film DESERVES a lot. And it will get every last bit of praise and remembrance.

Michel Gondry was a smart choice when it came to finding someone to helm this fine, bizarre creation of a powerful, one-of-a-kind mind. Gondry had previously worked as a music video director. He also made "Human Nature", also written by the beloved Kaufman. He's taken a step up here, and without him, the feeling of surreal pleasure would not have been so deeply or visually impressively explored. The trippy music score, courtesy of the wonderful Jon Brion, only adds to the paranoia, distortion, and memorability of each memory sequence. I love "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and I always will. It reflects a big part of my life, your life; our lives. We can't attempt to deny that, and instead, we should look the director, the writer, and the actors (Carrey gives one of his best performances here) for their work on this film. There aren't many like it, and for good reason. Nobody makes them like Gondry and nobody writes them like Kaufman. It was a match made in heaven; the movie itself is but a slice.

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September 18, 2011
Great movie indeed! This became better the more times I see it. Terrific write up!
More Eternal Sunshine of the Spotle... reviews
Quick Tip by . July 27, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Dispite the craze of hipster kids who love this movie. It is still one of the greatest written films ever. Jim Carrey is amazing.
review by . June 27, 2010
.... Jim Carrey, I mean. He almost made me forget that he is eternally, recurrently, ineluctably "Ace Ventura, Pet Detective"! Almost, I say. He is a masterful actor, and he plays the sad sack Joel as plausibly as anyone could. But whatever slouch he adopts, whatever stubble covers his chin, he's still The Grinch, Loki, Truman, and above all Ace! Ventura! At some fundamental level of thespian craft, he fails. He needs the help of Dr. Mierzwiak to erase MY memories of his previous roles.    Kate …
review by . May 13, 2008
Movie Poster
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind explores the impact on life and love if we could decide to erase our physically and emotionally traumautic memories.  Specifically, the movie follows the relationship of Joel (Jim Carrey) and Clementine (Kate Winslet) in the context of the availability and use of this memory erasing technology.    I don't want to spoil this brilliant movie, so I'm intentionally trying to stay light on the details.   I always use this movie …
review by . December 31, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
DVD cover (front)
From the brilliantly eccentric minds of screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (Adaptation) and visionary director Michel Gondry comes Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a romantic comedy that's unlike any other. The film's screenplay, which deals with familiar themes of reconciliation and redemption, is constantly surprising in the direction that it chooses to go. Kaufman and Gondry, who are themselves rather unconventional, avoid the clichés of both the comedy and romance genres.  The film's …
review by . September 25, 2007
When I first heard of this film it didn't interest me that much but after a number of recommendations I dove into it. Thankfully enough I found "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" an excellent romantic and intriguing comedy-drama about two people who don't truly realize they are in love until one loses the other. Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) is a lonely yet sweet man who is looking for true love and the ideal woman. His search ends when he meets Clementine Krucynksi (Kate Winslet), an energetic …
review by . October 18, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
The title of this film is taken from a poem written by Alexander Pope entitled "Eloisa to Abelard". Pope based his poem upon the lives of two real people who were involved in an illicit affair. The poem is written from Eloisa's point of view and illustrates the conflict the woman has between her deep love for Abelard and her devotion to God. The movie takes it's name from the lines, "How happy is the blameless Vestal's lot!/The world forgetting, by the world forgot./ Eternal sunshine of the spotless …
review by . May 10, 2005
It is, despite the Truman Show, still a bold move to cast Jim Carrey in any movie that doesn't require outrageous slapstick. Here, Carrey is not just required not to gurn, but to play the most anally retentive character in the film. As a concept, you would think, that would be madness. But, and with a surprising amount of ease, it works. Carrey is credible and likeable as the everyman Joel Barish. Just as Joel is believably uptight (bearish, even?), Kate Winslet's Clementine is believably flaky, …
review by . January 09, 2005
After eighty years of cinema, the film industry is running out of original ideas. There seem to be more and more remakes of old films, or recycled ideas, everyday. I find this loss of originality to be quite depressing. That's why I'm overjoyed to find that there is still some creativity in Hollywood today. "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" is a perfect example.    Jim Carrey stars as Joel, a man who one day discovers that his lover, Clementine (Kate Winslet), has had him …
review by . July 03, 2004
posted in Movie Hype
Eternal sunshine is a clever movie that explores the concept of memory being erased to remove unpleasant memories. The setting is a dreary, blighted area of Long Island NY and the beaches of Montauk, where the disrupted romance of the Jim Carrey & Kate Winslet characters begins. The story shifts back and forth in time as well as in and out of the mind of the Carrey character. The supporting cast includes Elijah Wood and Kirsten Dunst, with each supporting character playing an important role in the …
review by . June 27, 2004
Pros: Acting, directing, plot-line.     Cons: Some rough patches in the script.     The Bottom Line: A thinking person movie to be sure…     Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie''s plot. You never know what to expect from comedian, turned comedic actor, turned dramatic actor, Jim Carry (Peggy Sue Got Married - 1986, The Mask – 1994, The Truman Show – 1998, Bruce Almighty – 2003), or where the very …
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Ryan J. Marshall ()
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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About this movie


The title is taken from the poem “Eloisa to Abelard” by Alexander Pope.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Theatrical release poster Directed by Michel Gondry Produced by Anthony Bregman
Steve Golin Written by Screenplay:
Charlie Kaufman
Michel Gondry
Pierre Bismuth
Charlie Kaufman Starring Jim Carrey
Kate Winslet
Kirsten Dunst
Mark Ruffalo
Elijah Wood
Tom Wilkinson
Jane Adams
David Cross
Thomas Jay Ryan Music by Jon Brion Cinematography Ellen Kuras Editing by Valdís Óskarsdóttir Distributed by Focus Features Release date(s) March 19, 2004 Running time 108 minutes Country United States Language English Budget $20 million Gross revenue $72.2 million

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a 2004 American psychological-drama film by director Michel Gondry. The film uses elements of science fiction, nonlinear narration and neosurrealism to explore the nature of memory and romantic love.[1] It opened in North America on March 19, 2004 and grossed over US$70 million worldwide.[2]

Gondry worked on the story with writer/director Charlie Kaufman and Pierre Bismuth, a French performance artist. Together, they won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay in 2005, alongside a nomination for Kate Winslet for Best Actress that year. The film stars Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet and features Kirsten Dunst, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Wilkinson, Elijah Wood, Jane Adams, and David Cross.

The title is taken from the poem Eloisa to Abelard by ...

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Director: Michel Gondry
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Release Date: March 19, 2004
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Charlie Kaufman
Runtime: 1hr 48min
Studio: Universal Studios, Focus Features
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