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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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Broken Hearts = Fractured Minds

  • Dec 31, 2008

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 non-linear narrative structure, which may at times be confusing, enables viewers to forget about the illusory logical world that we live in and transports them to another world that manages to be believable because it is firmly grounded in real human emotion.
Jim Carrey as Joel Barish


Joel Barish, an introverted and lonely man, is stunned when he finds out that his former girlfriend, the fiercely independent and frequently manic Clementine, has had a procedure performed that has erased Joel from her memory. Confused and distraught, Joel impulsively decides that he too wants to forget their troubled relationship so he meets with Dr. Mierzwiak, the founder of the Lacuna Corporation, where the procedure was invented. Dr. Mierzwiak explains the details of the non-surgical procedure and Joel tells him of his past with Clementine. Later that night Joel takes an unnamed pill prescribed by Mierzwiak and then he falls into a deep sleep. Then two programmers (or deprogrammers depending on how you look at it), named Stan and Patrick, begin the process of erasing Joel's painful past. But Joel is not entirely unconscious and he's able to hear some of what Stan and Patrick are saying. Joel overhears Patrick admit that he's been using Clementine's erased memories to seduce her. Later Patrick actually leaves Joel's apartment when Clementine calls him sounding distressed.

As Joel revisits his past and watches helplessly as his memories of Clementine are deconstructed, he is reminded of why he fell in love with her to begin with. Desperate to wake up and stop the procedure, Joel attempts to communicate with Stan. However he fails. Next he tries hiding Clementine in memories where she doesn't belong.

Meanwhile Patrick uses his intimate knowledge of Clementine to try and puppeteer their relationship, but instead Clementine finds him to be predictable and superficial.

While Patrick's attempts at seduction prove to be a failure, Stan becomes distracted when his own girlfriend, Mary, comes to visit him. Stan stops overseeing the procedure and is away from the computer monitor long enough for Joel to become lost in his memories. When Stan realizes that Joel is resisting the memory-erasure program, he panics and calls Dr. Mierzwiak, who after a few attempts is able to redirect Joel's memories and continue with the procedure.

After Joel awakens the next morning, feeling empty and adrift, he calls into work sick and inexplicably takes a train to Montauk, where unbeknownst to him, he and Clementine had once gone on a date. By coincidence (or is it?) Joel and Clementine are reunited there and they instantly feel a magnetic allure to one another, though neither knows that they had once been lovers. However, they soon discover their forgotten pasts and together they question whether or not it's possible to start anew and rectify their mistakes.


Sanctuary of a bookstore...
Director Michel Gondry heightens the emotional impact of the film with an eerily detached visual style. Using simple methods of on-screen sleight of hand and clever editing, he creates a bizarre world in Joel's semi-conscious mind as his memories are torn apart. But the really astounding effects are not those done in the cutting room. What makes this film so powerful is its cast of dysfunctional yet relatable characters.

Hiding in forgotten memories...

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind features an all-star cast including Jim Carrey as Joel, Kate Winslet as Clementine, Tom Wilkinson as Dr. Mierzwiak, Mark Ruffalo as Stan, Kirsten Dunst as Mary, and Elijah Wood as Patrick. Jim Carrey gives an amazingly sincere performance without the excessive and abrasive slapstick demeanor that he's known for. Kate Winslet is superb in her portrayal of the highly individualized Clementine, who goes from charming to intimidating in a mere matter of seconds. Kirsten Dunst gives her most genuine performance as the outwardly confident yet internally insecure Mary. In fact the entire cast does some of their best work, making the film truly unforgettable.

That memory of that perfect night...

In a strange way, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind possesses an almost nostalgic quality. Each viewer will find pieces of themselves in the frailties of the characters as they struggle with their own neuroses and revisit the past events that helped to shape who they've become. In one of the film's most memorable scenes Joel relives the humiliations of his childhood and as viewers, we can't help but wonder how our own long-forgotten blunders have affected our present selves. It is in this way that the film is enhanced by a beautiful and all-too-familiar fragility. It shows us the failures of the human race: our insecurities, our egos, our need to run away from the intrinsically painful truth. Yet in the end we are left with a hope that we may still learn from our mistakes.

DVD cover (front) DVD cover (back) Broken Hearts = Fractured Minds Broken Hearts = Fractured Minds Broken Hearts = Fractured Minds Broken Hearts = Fractured Minds Broken Hearts = Fractured Minds

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January 05, 2009
I really loved ADAPTATION and BEING JOHN MALKOVICH but for some reason this film just never leapt into my hands at the video store, could it be Jim Carrey putting me off? Maybe.
January 30, 2010
All comedians really are tortured souls who yearn to be dramatic actors.
January 31, 2010
She's got a point. Why do you think my jokes are so bad? ; )
January 31, 2010
Professional comedians. But if you want to talk bad jokes, you're an amature compared to Pete mangels, a guy I worked with for 25 years at the post ofice. Of course he had a lot more practice time given his age. it was always best to pretend you just couldn't hear him--you NEVER wanted to encourage him in any way! =)
January 01, 2009
Honestly, Count, I saw this years ago when I was on a date and I have to re-watch this. I was so beat and distracted during that evening. Happens a lot when you used to work 2 jobs. Take care.
January 04, 2011
January 04, 2011
What is?
January 04, 2011
someone asked me to feature this review. and of course I completed the thumbs. =)
January 04, 2011
Weird, I didn't get any notifications.
More Eternal Sunshine of the Spotle... reviews
review by . September 17, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
**** 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 …
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 . 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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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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