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Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
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by Josh Gryniewicz

"Kaufman’s most developed film to date."
5 stars

Charlie Kaufman is one of the few writers with the ability to convey emotional depth in metaphorically charged dream like narratives while still remaining grounded in the reality of human experience. His films “Being John Malkovich” (1999), “Adaptation” (2002) and “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” (2002) are surrealistic journeys into the philosophical soul of humanity. “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” marks the most maturely developed film in his repertoire.

Joel (Jim Carrey) is a straight lace, button down, admittedly non-impulsive guy who agrees to have the memories of his last relationship erased after finding that his free-spirited ex, Clementine (Kate Winslet) has already had the procedure done herself. While the procedure is being administered Joel comes to the realization that he needs these memories and the film takes an intriguing turn as he tries to salvage a single image of her.

This concept and its philosophical core, the role memory plays in defining our perceptions of reality and personal identity, are familiar to fans of sci-fi master Philip K. Dick. Rather than scripting the story against a backdrop of interplanetary conspiracy or corporate domination, however, Kaufman’s theme is far more ordinary (and therefore extraordinary), love. The relationship between Joel and Clementine revealed through reflective vignettes explores the depths of the characters and their intimacy but also rushes the “thriller” component of the story along. The implicit images of Joel and Clem race through the recess of his psyche attempting to get “off the map” of charted memory into areas where the machine and the “erasers” presumably won’t touch. Joel tries to conceal Clem in humiliating, awkward childhood memories: recollections of Joel at age four, flashbacks to being caught masturbating and childhood confrontations with neighborhood bullies. This not only provides the most outrageously humorous parts of the film (in neurotic, self-effacing Kaufman form) but its ultimate message--our memories are an interconnected patchwork that composes who we are.

Other sub-plots are flawlessly woven into the narrative to underscore this point, like multiple hypotheses drawing equally relevant conclusions. Patrick (Elijah Wood) one of the memory technicians falls in love with Clem at her first visit to Lacuna, Inc. and takes the opportunity to steal aspects of Joel's identity in an effort to seduce her; factoring ethical connotations into the memory debate.

Furthermore, every performance in the film is delivered with the awareness that they are simultaneously characters and concepts. Winslet for example, offers subtle differences between Clem in reality and Clem as featured in the mind of Joel. Her eccentricities in Joel’s eyes are more pronounced and exhibited as such in his memory, while the Clem of reality dons a depressed quality as her unique characteristics mask an underlying confusion. Carrey who has built his career on nauseating over-the-top roles, expresses his range not just by playing the straight guy, but playing it so subdued that the images take center, rather than the character. The supporting roles are just as impressive – Elijah Wood plays the dweebish villain as rationalizing his scheme to seduce in a manner that is simultaneously pathetic and conniving. His performance makes it clear that he is more thrilled with the cleverness of his ploy, than taxed by its manipulative nature. An interesting note, is that the only significant resistance the character gets is from mind erase partner Frank (Mark Ruffalo) who observes its unethical nature while stealing from Joel’s apartment (he won’t remember if anything goes missing). Dunst’s performance perfectly compliments Winslet’s, where Clem’s weirdness masks confusion and pain, Mary’s perky, upbeat disposition does the same and Dunst embodies the revelations that define the film’s theme.

Furthermore, Director Michel Gondry, who has refined his techniques (and flair for surreal imagery) on music videos, along with cinematographer Ellen Kuras and editor Valdis Oskarsdottir provide intricate layers of hallucinatory mental images that seduce viewers into experiencing rather than viewing the story.

“Eternal Sunshine” takes its title from a line in the Alexander Pope poem “Eloisa and Abelard” in which the feature characters (of the poem) force themselves to choose a love for God over their love for one another. Abelard enters a monastery, Eloisa a convent where she is left to pray that she might never speak or write Abelard’s name again. In the film, the new God of science imposes on human emotions and it is Joel’s devotion to love that creates the conflict. With real memory altering drugs only five years off by some estimates (beta – blocker Propranolol is already being tested among victims of post traumatic stress disorder) such explorations into the significance of memory are no longer abstract philosophical quandaries, but essential topics for debate. “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” has more in common with its namesake than title, both are unquestionably works of poetry.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=8888&reviewer=362
originally posted: 03/27/04 13:23:11
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User Comments

11/12/13 Vanessa Campos one of my top movies 5 stars
10/26/12 Bob Wow, just wow. I went in with no idea, not even about the memory removal, and I'm sooo glad 5 stars
9/23/12 rob beautiful movie, top 5 favorite of all time 5 stars
7/27/12 Luis Rivera Extremely genuine and effective 5 stars
1/21/12 rXrumere No Comment 5 stars
8/22/11 Annie G Will stick with you, in a slightly annoying fashion. 3 stars
7/10/11 Todd Go watch Twilight, Cindy. That'll be more up your alley. 5 stars
6/26/11 DR A must see movie, with one of the most brilliant movie endings - simple yet poignant. 5 stars
7/17/10 Flounder One of my all-time favorite films. Intelligent and emotionally poignant. 5 stars
1/15/10 Diarmuid Hickey Wonderful. 5 stars
7/02/09 cindy Nothing funny here, this movie just plain sucked. BORING!!! 1 stars
11/20/08 Shaun Wallner Interesting Movie! 5 stars
10/04/08 Lenny Zane Kate Winslet's Oscar nomination for this tripe may be a sign of the end of civilization. 1 stars
5/11/08 jordan unforgettable imagery and beautifully crafted. everything works wonderfully. a fav 4sure 5 stars
1/12/08 R.W.Welch Highly original but overly fragmented. B- 4 stars
12/15/07 LuLu One of the best movies ever made!!!!! 5 stars
8/02/07 Me This really sucks.. boring and predictable 1 stars
6/15/07 Danielle Ophelia Most movies make me hate myself in the morning. Not this one. 5 stars
6/03/07 Gary of Winnipeg A very stirring movie but not manipulative 5 stars
5/12/07 the t-dawg Just Super-Awesome-Tacular 5 stars
4/08/07 H.M. Anyone who doesn't like this movie is an idiot. (I'm looking at you, one-star guys.) 5 stars
4/04/07 fools♫gold Not as good or as bad as people say (to me, anyway). Dream-like, and it does it right. 4 stars
2/15/07 Coenie Best performance by the brilliant Ms Winslet....EVER! 5 stars
12/23/06 David Pollastrini a bit slow in places but still good 3 stars
12/22/06 Bill Lambertson Timeless Beauty. Astonishing. 5 stars
11/28/06 Stanley Thai One of the weirdest, imaginative, best, romance ever! 5 stars
11/25/06 Jason of Essex Carrey has more than redeemed himself; Winslet is superb. Sad, surreal, beautiful and lol. 5 stars
11/15/06 Brian O'Neill A phenomenally creative, affecting, unpredictable, fevered dream of a movie. Adored it. 5 stars
11/03/06 Courtney This film is amazing, truly touching 5 stars
8/14/06 nathan one of this decades best and most original films 5 stars
7/12/06 Agent Sands Deserving of every bit of praise it has gotten. 5 stars
6/06/06 Dave Webber I hatedthis - w-w-a-a-a-y-y-y-y-y too pretentious. 2 stars
4/30/06 Doug Seriously, HBS needs to bring back the 'Fucking Awesome' rating; 'Awesome' doesn't do. 5 stars
4/20/06 Diamond This movie is amazing, beautiful, funny, witty, and heart catching... MUST SEE. 5 stars
3/31/06 Anthony Feor Carrey has hit rock bottom 1 stars
3/20/06 kerry god does this movie suck 1 stars
1/04/06 Andrew Cheung After the 6th viewing, the ending is so perfect it still gives me chills 5 stars
12/26/05 Sammu i don't use to leave a movie theatre before the end of the movie, but this one... blaghr!!! 1 stars
12/12/05 cooler Winslet still can't act and this movie sucks.BORINGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 1 stars
12/01/05 Tara I was shocked by how good this movie was. The previews didn't do it justice. 5 stars
11/15/05 noops show it any mental hospital 1 stars
11/13/05 Jason Marjoram wikid awsome 5 stars
10/10/05 Agent Sands Kaufman is so brilliant that he makes u follow his own train of thought during the story. 5 stars
9/24/05 D Buckley Kind of touching. 4 stars
8/17/05 Stephen Beautiful and deep without being preachy... well worth your time. 5 stars
8/05/05 Zack Charlie Kaufman's best screenplay 5 stars
8/04/05 Gabriel Ruzin heartbreaking and incredible; one of my very favorite 5 stars
7/25/05 Eric Rollins The French will love this. Unfortunately I'm not decadent enough. 2 stars
7/22/05 Bad Critic Finally, a good Jim Carrey movie. Well, there was The Cable Guy. I guess I take that back. 4 stars
7/07/05 delli Great, but i want to see it. 5 stars
6/29/05 Chris The best movie of this decade, no doubt about it. 5 stars
6/27/05 R once again, kaufman misses the "comedy" mark, but for the better. he got lucky, THIS time. 4 stars
5/16/05 E-FUNK Absolutely floored by this film. Gets better and better every viewing. 5 stars
5/05/05 Regis Best movie of 2004. 5 stars
5/01/05 dee smith aweful 1 stars
5/01/05 ed.williams Great movie. Jim Carrey is becoming a great actor...possible another Robin Williams 5 stars
4/22/05 akram One of the worst movies I have ever seen. 1 stars
3/29/05 Regis Malone One of the best movies of the 21st century, if not the best. 5 stars
3/25/05 Mike Best movie of 2004. No, make that the last five years. At least. 5 stars
3/25/05 MaryBeth Isaac Good - thought provoking; insightful. Very unique storyline. Kate Winslet was perfect 4 stars
3/24/05 dwarzel Hopefully no more talking out of his backside for Carrey 5 stars
3/23/05 Michael Lloyd unlike any other film, great cast, great writing, daringly original 5 stars
3/09/05 jeff beautiful movie!!! very touching. 5 stars
3/01/05 Taylor Fladgate A masterpiece...blows your mind... 5 stars
2/14/05 Angela Saunders Very different movie, unique! 4 stars
2/14/05 ELI You suck William! :) one of the best movies of the year 5 stars
1/25/05 Mark the best film of 2004 5 stars
1/24/05 Shawn jim carrey is great. great movie 5 stars
1/19/05 lindy03 This is a great film! 5 stars
1/15/05 Charlene Javier Brilliant! Bravo! 5 stars
1/14/05 Dara Elizabeth Van This film has made me look at life from a new perspective. Kate Winslet's BEST EVER!!! 5 stars
1/12/05 Tom Benton Easily the best film of 2004, and one of the best ever made. 5 stars
1/11/05 HL Twilight Zone?..Love Story?..Agree With TFH 'bout Kate. 4 stars
1/07/05 Martin Took some effort, but well worth it. 5 stars
1/04/05 Echo a lovestory with a twist. now my alltime favorite 5 stars
1/03/05 Abbath Very well made and written. Best of 2004. 5 stars
1/03/05 Max An aquired taste. 4 stars
12/29/04 Debra Sherman even made my nonemotional boyfriend sit up and take notice 5 stars
12/20/04 ELI Best movie in 2004! :) 5 stars
12/13/04 Tiffany Faye Hawthorne What Golden Globe idiots mistook this for a decent movie???? Kate Winslut sucks!!!!! 1 stars
12/12/04 AlbieOne Check it out,,, 4 stars
12/11/04 Charlene Javier Excellent! Kate Winslet deserves an Oscar! 5 stars
12/11/04 Jerry Very original. The best movie I've seen in 2004 5 stars
12/10/04 y2mckay vastly overrated, although Carrey gives a surprisingly good dramatic performance 3 stars
12/07/04 Lily To date, one of the best movies I have seen......A poignancyso pure and lethal 5 stars
12/02/04 Film Student Excellent movie, great subtle effects. See it. 5 stars
11/30/04 lolalaloca13 One of my top 5 fave films now! 5 stars
11/27/04 Matt F. Probably the best movie i've seen this year 5 stars
11/22/04 doinkie Stunning, thought provoking and brilliant. Best pic of 04 5 stars
11/22/04 Peter Scadding Slow to start with then the twists and turns kick in, marvellous film 4 stars
11/21/04 Jim Compelling psychological fairy tale shows how we forget good memories when things go bad. 5 stars
11/21/04 David Best movie of the year. 5 stars
11/20/04 Abbath A beautiful story filled with genuine emotion delievered in the most unique fashion. 5 stars
11/18/04 Jennifer I cannot get this movie out of my head, it's amazing! 5 stars
11/17/04 Ry Predictable and a waste of time. 1 stars
11/17/04 Jews for Hitler Right on the mark with toxic relationships. 4 stars
11/13/04 Nadia Fantastic. I loved it. 5 stars
11/07/04 Phil M. Aficionado Glad I saw it; innovative, well made, but too much hocum for my tastes 3 stars
11/05/04 Sara You're missing out if you don't see this. 5 stars
11/03/04 Alissa Lubanski This movie is a piece of shit. 1 stars
10/31/04 Monster W. Kung Frankly, I expected better than this. Not bad, but far from great. 3 stars
10/29/04 Elise WOW, best movie I saw this year! 5 stars
10/28/04 s4|nt you probobly think your artsy dont you? it blows 1 stars
10/27/04 The Talking Elbow Left me feeling 'bleh' at the end. Lacks real substance, more style then anything. But good 3 stars
10/23/04 Mikami Very sophisticated, non-linear film! 5 stars
10/12/04 Laura Defininutly awesome!!!!! 5 stars
10/08/04 Flounder Incredible 5 stars
10/03/04 Doc Hollywood Thought provoking and evocative. 5 stars
9/29/04 Flounder I'm absolutely stunned that I enjoyed this. 5 stars
9/28/04 MikeC Best movie i've seen in a decade 5 stars
9/24/04 Agent Sands One of the freshest, greatest movies in awhile. 5 stars
9/22/04 brit this is an amazing film. it is more than just simple entertainment.rather it is an artwork! 5 stars
9/22/04 nh great 5 stars
8/14/04 Peter James The best films of the year 5 stars
8/06/04 Terry Best film I've seen all year, or even the last couple 5 stars
8/04/04 Elena Best screenplay and direction in ten years 5 stars
8/01/04 Luna Pierce This movie has got to go on the top ten best movies of the year if not the last decade. 5 stars
7/24/04 marcelo marques Briliantly made. K. takes us on a journey which will never be erased from our minds..... 5 stars
7/21/04 dropdead Amazing! Best movie I've seen in a very long time! 5 stars
7/17/04 legend Hands down the best film this year. Great movie. 5 stars
7/08/04 Liz I loved this movie when I saw it. It was able to actually keep my attention the entire time 5 stars
6/30/04 Mikey Crunt I love this film. I was the only person in this old-fashioned cinema. Only in the UK 5 stars
6/11/04 Elena If you didn't like it, then you shouldn't have seen it because for what it is it's amazing 5 stars
6/09/04 S.F. Slow in the begining. A film that atleast tries to be different. Worth a watch. 4 stars
6/07/04 James Kustes One of 2004's best. Great soundtrack by ELO, Beck, and Jon Brion! 5 stars
6/02/04 Iris Dementia Praecox If Kirsten Dunst hadn't done VIRGIN SUICIDES, this would be every cast member's worst film! 1 stars
6/01/04 Norma Lehigh Woo fonvoulted cor turds! 1 stars
6/01/04 Turtle Touching, bizarre, and yet strangest of all, very real. Viva Charlie Kaufman! 5 stars
6/01/04 Sheila Evans ALONG CAME POLLY meets FATAL ATTRACTION meets 50 LAST DATES. 1 stars
5/30/04 Edler The ending was a disaster... like they ran out of money and had to wrap up in a hurry. 4 stars
5/27/04 Melissa P i loved the movie it's worth to see it, one of the few movies of its type that i enjoyed. 5 stars
5/26/04 Proteus Amazing performances, compelling creative script, and directed with flair. A treasure. 5 stars
5/22/04 Jackie Thomas original, great movie 5 stars
5/20/04 Alan Liddle In my Top 10 - Very left field! 5 stars
5/19/04 cpbjr One of the best movies I have seen in a long time. The story and its telling -- genius! 5 stars
5/19/04 Agent Sands Extremely effective. It may be kinda confusing, but it kicks ass overall. 5 stars
5/18/04 Elena Cloest thing to a perfect movie I've ever seen 5 stars
5/17/04 JoeManco Each prayer accepted, and each wish resigned 5 stars
5/15/04 steph an excellent film. really intresting and different ! loved it! :) 5 stars
5/14/04 skye so glad kate wasn't drew b. nice movie, but getting tired of reality-manipulation gimmicary 4 stars
5/14/04 earl duron WEIRD AND OVERATED=ANNOYING 2 stars
5/11/04 Graham Great acting and script killed by gimmicky over-direction 3 stars
5/11/04 Helen Bradley worst film of the decade 1 stars
5/10/04 AR Utterly wonderful acting and filming; a beautiful concept as well. 5 stars
5/10/04 Kimberly absolute genius 5 stars
5/06/04 DM Hooray for Jim Carrey! Found a new character at last! 5 stars
5/06/04 Mark Fulwiler Intelligent, well acted and entertaining 5 stars
5/01/04 sulky Kaufman brilliant as ever, Gondry underrated, wonderful cast 5 stars
5/01/04 Spud Envy Fabulous, funny, provocative and KIRSTEN DUNST in her undies!!! YOWZA 5 stars
4/26/04 gabrielle amazing! cant stop thinking about it 5 stars
4/26/04 Reini Urban Where Adapation failed, here it works. 5 stars
4/24/04 lacondora great, weird, wonderful flick 5 stars
4/23/04 Jorge Guimera heart and mind trip... a truly life experience 5 stars
4/23/04 mccn22 great 5 stars
4/22/04 ospinad simply put, best movie EVER! 5 stars
4/21/04 Kathy Brilliant love story, heartbreaking and funny too, Best of 2004 so far 5 stars
4/21/04 John Wallace long boring and confused 2 stars
4/19/04 Rosie R Brilliant! 5 stars
4/19/04 Marc Reasoner Bittersweet brilliance 5 stars
4/19/04 T$ excellent 5 stars
4/19/04 Boris Brilliant. Winslet is so adorable in this film, while Carrey holds his own. 5 stars
4/19/04 Owen Earp Phenomenal film... Jim Carrey & Kate Winslet are both truly captivating. True storytelling. 5 stars
4/19/04 Kevin c This movies sucks 1 stars
4/19/04 Nipun Sareen Smashing! Just one of the movies you would like never to end !!!! 5 stars
4/18/04 frankie stein deep and thought provoking. My new favorite movie 5 stars
4/17/04 zeitgeist Brilliant. Kaufman is a 21st century Philip K. Dick with glitz 5 stars
4/14/04 Agent Sands So deep it gets to boggle the mind into tying itself in knots, but it sure is great. 5 stars
4/13/04 CB truly beautiful...congrats Kaufman 5 stars
4/13/04 Aaron Artfully tasteful, but not great 3 stars
4/11/04 Jessica awesome movie 5 stars
4/10/04 Sean Anderson Has made me look at movies in a whole new light. One of my absolute favorites. 5 stars
4/08/04 colleen beautiful. 5 stars
4/08/04 Robert Wow, absolutely amazing. It'll mess with your head for a week 5 stars
4/07/04 mason ok if you like watching multi-millionaires try to play "regular-folks", annoying soundtrack 3 stars
4/06/04 re a great film 5 stars
4/04/04 Kbar a bit overobvious of a plot...no true mindfuck here 4 stars
4/02/04 Robert Goodwin Please tell everyone you know to go see this movie!!! Absolutely Incredible. 5 stars
4/02/04 othree great & touched way i can't express, carey (rocked)& winslet = wonderful 2 5 stars
4/01/04 Andy Lindsay Truly excellent. I'll see it again before it leaves the theaters. 5 stars
3/31/04 Jessie i loved it! 5 stars
3/31/04 Nicole Very solid movie, I was impressed. 5 stars
3/29/04 Barrett A stunningly beautiful and human film. 5 stars
3/29/04 jefftucson Best film I've seen in about a year. 5 stars
3/29/04 chris. awesome...NOT terrific 5 stars
3/28/04 FrayLo Takes a while to get started, but definitely relateable and compelling. 5 stars
3/28/04 Margie very very good... i think most people can relate with the subject matter 4 stars
3/27/04 average guy It's Worth a Look, but I was expecting too much after the buzz 1 stars
3/27/04 Kristin Fantastically creative and touching as well. "Being John Malkovich" with heart. 5 stars
3/27/04 Nathaniel No other word but amazing is needed 5 stars
3/27/04 Alicia I usually avoid anything with Jim Carey, but give him an Oscar! 5 stars
3/26/04 Melissa Gaugert Wonderful, surprising, sad, happy, funny --great all around movie! 5 stars
3/25/04 Eric This movie is incredible... It really touched me because, basically, I AM Joel. 5 stars
3/25/04 Emily When it was over i just sat there and took big breaths... 5 stars
3/25/04 rojo Great movie, be patient. 4 stars
3/24/04 Rich Great, thought provoking movie 5 stars
3/24/04 rje I like Jim Carrey but this is the worst movie imaginable 1 stars
3/23/04 Desperado Perfect, Incredible, I have seen a lot of movies, and this is one of my favorites, A+ 5 stars
3/23/04 cobra commander pretty damn good job by carey... a bit magnolia'esque nonetheless... fantastic!! 5 stars
3/23/04 Mortis Beautiful, engaging, engrossing, distrubing, saddening & uplifting - wonderfully acted 5 stars
3/22/04 Jon Jabber incredible acting performances especially from carrey, dunst, and winslet 5 stars
3/22/04 Mitch this film was really strange, and I don't think I got it. Mostly , it made me really sad. 4 stars
3/22/04 A F This will be hard to beat this year!!! In my mind anyway. 5 stars
3/21/04 Z_Fine The best film I have ever seen. 5 stars
3/21/04 susan lee kaufman rules 5 stars
3/21/04 midLI Cannot wait until I see it again! Better than awesome. 5 stars
3/21/04 Bubba Jones What 'Punch Drunk Love' was supposed to be (without the hype, too) & more. 5 stars
3/21/04 Koitus Parts were confusing, because of "jumbled" time-line(s); great flashbacks to childhood! 4 stars
3/20/04 True Grit Memento is about ten times better. The actors were cool but the movie lead nowhere. 2 stars
3/20/04 Titus Fantastic movie in every way. 5 stars
3/19/04 john wonderful, clever as 'Momento, romance, love etc. 5 stars
3/18/04 Cameron Slick An amazing, provactive, genius romantic comedy dreams are made of. 5 stars
3/14/04 Ray Carrey is good, but it isnt that much a comedy 4 stars
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  19-Mar-2004 (R)
  DVD: 04-Jan-2005


  15-Apr-2004 (M)

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