Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Mike Mantin 16/05/2005

Rating: 4/5

When Michel Gondry- director of warped promos for the likes of Björk and White Stripes- steps up to the director's chair, it's clear something wonderful will happen. The French loon has joined a legion of music video monkeys translating their unique styles into full-length features. Add this to Being John Malkovich screenwriter Charlie Kaufman and a stellar cast and you have something special on your hands.
Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind is the story of archetypal American nice guy Joel (Carrey), recently broken up with free-spirited girlfriend Clementine (Winslet). So far, so Average Romantic Comedy, and for the first half-hour you'll probably think so too. We see a lengthy break-up section before the credits with nothing particularly special. Then the interesting stuff happens. Clementine decides to have Joel removed from his memory via cutting edge Lacuna, Inc. technology (it'll probably happen). Now when Joel visits her at work, she hasn't the slightest clue who he is. Upset, Joel decides to do the same, until he realises that maybe those memories should be savoured and attempts to rescue them from his mind as they are wiped out one by one. From here, the film turns into a cinematic jigsaw puzzle as story elements are chronologically jumbled and it is difficult to tell what is dream and what is reality.
As Carrey puts in a brilliantly Truman Show-esque performance rescuing Clementine from his brain, filmgoers will begin to lose patience with the story and give up. But that is where the genius lies: when people drift off from trying to understand it, it can be seen as an enjoyable romantic comedy with Kaufman's smart dialogue as bite. It's even got a proper ending and everything amidst the Memento confusion.
With Eternal Sunshine, Gondry and Kaufman have crafted with care a strange sculpture, but one with heart and accessibility. After the shambles of Bruce Almighty and The Majestic, Carrey reminds us that, yes, he can act, supported by a strong cast. Clever, witty and sweet, Eternal Sunshine is one of those rare movies that melts both the brain and the heart.