Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) – Film Review
Director: Michael Gondry
Cast: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst
by Matt Callard
Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman had already taken cinema down previously uncharted psychological pathways with Being John Malkovich (self obsession) and Adaptation (identity and neurosis) before he gave director Michael Gondry the simple task of filming this surreal and meditative fable on memory, lucidity and lost love. Backwards.
It’s a sublimely disorientating narrative as Joel (Jim Carrey) attempts to end a crippling case of heartbreak by having the memory of his ex-girlfriend (a tangerine-haired Kate Winslet) expunged from his cerebellum by a dubious back street doctor. It all goes awry when, halfway through the procedure, Joel decides against the treatment and rallies to try and retain his memories.
“A hymn to our own personality-forming vaults of memory”
What results is a fresh and poignant take on relationships – a hymn to our own personality-forming vaults of memory and inner archives.
How Gondry handles Carrey’s mad, overlapping memories with events in the real world is a creative tour-de-force. Carrey himself is terrifically well-directed throughout by Gondry. He keeps him admirably low-key until he really gets to cut loose near the end.
Kaufman rewrites the rule book here – and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a movie that makes memories.