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Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind DVD Review27 Sep 2004
Heather Wadowski Turk (JCO Editor/Reporter - L.A.)
DVD Cover © Eternal Sunshine
of the Spotless Mind: Universal
In "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," Carrey plays Joel Barish, a shy and gangly loner who is crushed to find out that his girlfriend Clementine (Kate Winslet) has literally erased him from her memory. Rather than forgive and forget, Joel decides simply to forget and undergoes the procedure himself. About halfway through the procedure though, Joel realizes that in order to forget the pain, he must forget the good times as well, and changes his mind about having his memory erased. Unfortunately, he's unconscious and already midway through the procedure when he comes to this realization, so he can't simply call the whole thing off. Instead, in a desperate attempt to never forget the love the two once shared, Joel races off with Clementine and takes her to the far corners of his mind in order to try to save whatever memories of their failed relationship he can before it's all gone for good.
Charlie Kaufman's screenplay is a weird, twisted love story that starts at the end rather than the beginning. While audiences think that they are being introduced to the two lovebirds when they first meet, as the story unfolds we learn that these two already have a history with one another -- they just don't remember it. Viewers are then taken back in time to when Joel decides to have his memory erased, where their true story unfolds memory by memory, fight by fight, kiss by kiss. In the end, viewers realize that the old saying "every dark cloud has its silver lining" is true, and that nothing -- not even having your memory erased -- can keep true love apart.
Carrey shines in the dark love story, though his acting range isn't nearly as great as what fans have seen in "Man on the Moon" or "The Truman Show." In fact, Carrey plays second fiddle to Kate Winslet's flawless performance, and for once it's someone else who steals the show in a Jim Carrey movie. Winslet is perfect as the spontaneous, neurotic, neon-colored hair motormouth, and although Clementine and Joel are as different as night and day, viewers will understand the unique connection they have thanks to Winslet and Carrey's powerful performances, and why that connection's so powerful that even a medical procedure can't keep the two apart.
Winslet and Carrey are supported by a fabulous cast as well, though some of the film's subplots are a bit underdeveloped. One subplot in particular, where Elijah Wood's character (the tech nerd/medical assistant Patrick) uses Joel's memory procedure for his own personal gain to go out with Clementine, is particularly a complete waste of time, as viewers would much rather see more intimate memories of Clementine and Joel than Patrick hitting on Clementine. However, the subplot between Tom Wilkinson (who plays the doctor who's perfected the memory erasure procedure) and Kirsten Dunst (who plays his assistant) helps tie Clementine and Joel's story together quite nicely, and really showcases the whole "love is blind" theory we've all been brought up on.
As captivating as the story is though, moviegoers brought up on Carrey's more polished films like "Batman Forever" and "Liar Liar" might find the roughness of "Eternal Sunshine" hard to get used to. The sleekness of Carrey's other big budgeted films is replaced with a gritty, handheld cam feel, and the pacing of "Eternal" makes "The Majestic" feel rushed. Still, for those who truly appreciate Carrey for his talents and are with him for the long haul, "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" could be Carrey's most unique gem yet.
After being ignored by the academy for "The Truman Show," "Man on
the Moon" and even "The Majestic," Charlie Kaufman's "Eternal
Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" could very well be the film that earns
Jim Carrey that long overdue Oscar nomination.
The only two special features worthy of the film this DVD is attached to are the deleted scenes and the conversation between Jim Carrey and Michel Gondry. The deleted scenes, though brief, offer two scenes in particular that probably never should have been cut -- one where viewers get to see Joel call Naomi to break it off before calling Clementine for the "first time" and another flashback scene of Clementine and Joel's first date to the theater. This scene in particular offers a very heartfelt moment, where the couple's original conversation about whether or not Joel is sure he wants to forget Naomi for good changes to their current situation, and whether or not Joel's prepared to have Clementine erased from his memory. Unfortunately, the deleted scenes feature offers no optional commentary by Gondry to find out why these two scenes in particular were cut, so viewers are left to wonder why these poignant and important scenes ended up on the cutting room floor.
The other special feature worth checking out is the conversation between Carrey and Gondry, where both share their own favorite stories involved with the making of "Eternal Sunshine." This feature both shows some of the in-camera special effects that occurred during the making of the film, as well as some personal behind-the-scenes footage of Carrey and the crew. Some of these behind-the-scenes moments are quite funny -- like the footage of Carrey driving a bed around a nearby gas station's parking lot during the middle of the night -- while others shed light on the internal struggles Carrey faced when he brought his own life stories into the making of the film. One very personal scene even features Carrey -- not in character -- breaking down and throwing a prop across the room while Winslet comforts him. Doubters of Carrey's natural talents need to look no further than this particular scene to see how seriously he takes his work, and how far he's come from simply talking out of his ass for laughs.
A film unlike anything he's ever done before, "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" is a movie for Jim Carrey's real fans -- a movie that lets Carrey shine, but lets its other stars, the script and its direction shine even brighter. A movie that shouldn't be forgotten come Oscar time, one can only hope that this DVD will finally show Academy voters the light.
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