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16 reviews, 216 user ratings

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Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
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by Robert Flaxman

"A brilliant evocation of love from a man better known for quirk."
5 stars

It must be very hard for marketing departments to know what to do with Charlie Kaufman's films, and understandably so. The man's work cannot easily be hemmed in to a single category, and films tend to be marketed on the strength of a single genre (which frequently kills multigeneric films). Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, for example, is being marketed as a romantic comedy, an advertising half-truth that hampers films that feature both romance and comedy but rarely have the two intersect.

The less said about the plot, the better, but it's hard to talk about the movie without talking about the plot on some level. Basically, Joel (Jim Carrey) and Clementine (Kate Winslet) break up. Clementine, on a whim, visits Lacuna, a company that specializes in erasing memories from a person's brain. Finding out what happened, Joel rushes to Lacuna and insists upon having the procedure done to him as well, but as it is being done (with much of the movie taking place inside Joel's brain) he has second thoughts and attempts to preserve memories of Clementine as the technicians attempt to erase them.

Though Kaufman's concept is, unsurprisingly, an interesting one, it's not the best part of the movie. Adaptation and Being John Malkovich certainly had solid emotional cores, but people describing what they found so interesting about the films generally came back to their high-concept origins. Not so with Sunshine, which uses its concept to get the ball rolling and then dives headlong into Kaufman's most emotional waters yet, as Joel realizes that he doesn't want to lose his memories of Clementine and spends most of the rest of the film examining their relationship with a version of her in his imagination.

Running parallel to this story is the darker side of Sunshine, depicting Lacuna technicians (Kirsten Dunst, Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood, Tom Wilkinson) who smoke weed, drink, and have sex, all in the comforts of Joel's home as they perform the procedure on him. Kaufman obviously frowns on the procedure, as his main character attempts to resist it while those performing it suffer from a distinct lack of morals. People should not try to hide from their past.

This section makes the section inside Joel's head, as he relives his memories of Clementine while they are being picked off one-by-one, look tremendously emotional in comparison, not that it wouldn't be if those scenes didn't exist. Despite the frequent fights toward the end of their relationship, Joel and Clementine have an obvious rapport - credit Carrey and Winslet here especially, as they really make you feel like these are two people who belong together, and who know each other intimately. Yet they fight because their connection is so ingrained that each has a hard time expressing it to the other, and both feel like there is something wrong with that. It is a paradox of their love.

What is perhaps the best part about the film is how realistic it feels. People fight in relationships, sometimes for no reason at all, as Joel and Clementine are depicted doing. At other times they are blissfully happy, in spite of the reservations they might have about each other at different moments. Observed on film it can feel perhaps a bit schizophrenic, but relationships can be like that. Kaufman approaches Joel and Clementine from the right angle, and Carrey and Winslet play them to perfection.

I haven't said too much about the rest of the film, but I don't think I really need to. Michel Gondry's direction is not intrusive, which is about the highest compliment that can be paid a former music video director, especially in a film this emotional - he does make the erasures in Joel's mind look particularly cool, though. The Lacuna employees' story is interesting at times and makes the end of the film play out differently than it would have otherwise, but its dark streak, while very prevalent, ends up being scrubbed away by Joel and Clementine, who are seemingly fated to end up together, no matter how they try to get rid of each other.

At the end of Adaptation, Kaufman's character decides to proclaim his love for a woman he is friends with, after having blown his chance earlier in the movie by being too hesitant. Having let his twin brother Donald's sensibilities overwhelm his script, Charlie takes on Donald's personality as well, subscribing to his theory of "You are what you love, not what loves you," and drives away happy. However, this all comes as part of an ending deliberately created as a play on the cliché endings of Hollywood and how Charlie letting Donald offer ideas on his script has led to this point.

The irony behind this is that Kaufman suffuses Sunshine with the notion that love conquers all - it can even make it through an attempt at purging it from memory. While not perfectly happy, the film's end is hopeful, having reunited its lead characters as they realize that, despite their past complaints about each other, they have such a connection that they should try again.

It's not the kind of work we might expect from the man behind Being John Malkovich, with its black humor and bizarre take on relationships, but Eternal Sunshine is a movie for anyone who's ever been in love. If you're in love right now, even better for the experience, but it's not required. Kaufman depicts it so well that even if you've forgotten what it's like, you'll be glad to remember.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=8888&reviewer=385
originally posted: 10/10/04 06:03:02
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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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