Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is ranked 59 in the 2010 IMDb Top 250 Challenge.
Eternal Sunshine is an odd film. It’s about a relationship but it’s not really a romantic film. It stars Jim Carey but it’s not full of slapstick comedy. It falls into the realm of sci-fi but doesn’t go into the realm of techno-babble. It is however, fantastic. If you’ve not already read the plot synopsis elsewhere, Eternal Sunshine follows Jim Carey’s character, Joel, a shy, quiet man (and thus completely unlike Carey in most of his other films) who after a long relationship with Kate Winslet’s Clementine finds out that after a row she has not only left him, but gone through with a procedure to remove him from her memory completely. Joel then decides to go through the same procedure and most of the film follows his sub-concious self travelling through memories of their relationship as he slowly realises that he wants to cherish what he had rather than obliterate the memory of it, while in the real world these memories are being targeted and deleted.
It is a story about love but without the sappy one-liners or puppy-dog eyes. Carey is just fantastic, I think it’s clear that if he bottles up the crazy and lets is leak out rather than explode, he can be a really powerful actor. Winslet plays the quirky love interest well, her character being a lot more three-dimensional than the quirky love interest of say (500) Days of Summer. Carey’s narration of his feelings of their relationship seem genuine, you do feel for the character of Joel as he decides he must hide the memories of Clementine from the ‘brain men’. Visually, the film is well shot. As his memories are destroyed his dream world begins to fall apart, people disappear around him, books lose their text and faces become a blur. It’s a great way of exploring the slowly depleting memory of his relationship with Clementine and feels bitter-sweet as he finally comes across the memory of when they first met. On the downside, the ‘real world’ characters and their b-story, featuring among others, Elijah ‘Mr Frodo’ Wood and Kirsten Dunst, is a lot weaker than the story of Joel and Clementine, though the film wouldn’t work without it.
To steal the tag-line from (500) Days of Summer (which you may have noticed, I’m feeling more bile towards as the days go by) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is not a love story but a story about love. It’s wonderfully shot and acted and worth repeated viewings. I have a feeling this may become a timeless – yet slightly indie – classic.