Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind Is A Great Thought Provoking Indie Film

As one of the most unique and innovative screenwriters currently working in Hollywood, Charlie Kaufman can carefully and superbly craft a story in a way unlike any other. One of his most relatable and best written films was with 2004’s, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind.

Charlie Kaufman gained notarially with his brilliant script for Being John Malkovich which fused one of Hollywood’s most innovative writers with one of Hollywood’s most eccentric people. The film would go on to be a massive independent hit and bring Kaufman an Oscar nomination. The trouble with “Malkovich” is people just didn’t get it. It would take 5 more years and an upstart production company in Focus Features to help people see that Kaufman wasn’t crazy but just had a detailed deep and  different way of looking at everyday life that involved a lot of creativity.

Charlie Kaufman would have 2 Oscar nominations under his belt by the time Eternal Sunshine would begin it’s production. one for “Malkovich” and one for Adaptation which did bring Oscar gold home for Chris Cooper in his best supporting actor role.

Eternal Sunshine is the story of a man named Joel Barish who has recently broken up with his eccentric girlfriend, Clementine. He soon discovers Clementine has enlisted the help of the Lacuna corporation to aid her in erasing Joel from her life and memory. Fueled by his disappointment and anger, Joel then decides to have the same procedure done. It is only at the start and under sedation that he realizes that he doesn’t want Clementine erased from his mind. He wants to keep all the memories, good and bad. The movie then is a trip through the relationship of Joel and Clementine as seen through the eyes of Joel’s memory and their attempt to stay together even if it’s in Joel’s mind.

With a look at relationships and areas of life that most people have felt and have memories they wish they could just all together forget, Eternal Sunshine shows that life is what it is and makes us who we are despite the great and terrible moments we endure.

Eternal Sunshine would go on to be the movie that would force those in the independent world to take notice of Michel Gondry. It was his American directorial debut and some films to follow would not live up to Eternal Sunshine but would none the less have Gondry’s touch on them all.

Kaufman however would continue to make some of Hollywood’s most unique and intelligent films which included his debut as a director with Synecdoche, New York starring Philip Seymour Hoffman. Synecdoche would not bring in the viewers that Eternal Sunshine did but would let Kaufman really stretch himself as a screenwriter and director.

Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet turned in superb performances which would have made the film mediocre or even bad without such acting. With what, off screen, seemed like such an unlikely chemistry, Carrey and Winslet proved they had what it takes to make it work. Winslet was already on her way to being the greatest working actress since Meryl Streep (which she has surpassed in the eyes of this reviewer) . Carrey would once again get snubbed like he did in ’98 and ’99.

Regardless of awards and recognitions, Eternal Sunshine is a great and different slant on the modern day love story that will leave you thinking and then wanting to re-live it all over again.

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14 thoughts on “Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind Is A Great Thought Provoking Indie Film”

  1. Without a doubt, Eternal Sunshine…is my favorite film of all-time. I’m glad to see it finding life, well after its release. Excellent write up on it.

    1. Robin Williams did get his recognition for Good Will Hunting with an academy award tho. But you are correct they tend to get overlooked far too often

  2. The movie reminded me somewhat of the Spanish film ‘Abre Los Ojos’, remade as the questionable ‘Vanilla Sky’. To be honest, I find Kaufman quite hit and miss, but this film is definitely a hit.

  3. Joel (Jim Carrey) is a rather milquetoast man who meets up with free spirit Clementine (Kate Winslet), and they become romantically involved. However, they endure a messy breakup and Clementine goes to a business called Lacuna, Inc., where she has all of her memories of Joel erased. Not wanting to be left out, Joel also goes to have his memory erased. However, soon after it begins, Joel realizes that he wants to keep the memory of Clementine, so he tries to reverse the process.

    Well, if you’re familiar with Kaufman’s work, then you know what your getting yourself into. This is just as weird if not weirder than his previous work, Being John Malkovich. I knew what I was getting myself into, but 90% of the movie I was saying to myself “What the hell is going on?”, but in a good way. It opens with Joel calling in sick for work and going on a different train, heading for Montauk. He meets Clementine and they hit it off. Now this is about 15 minutes into the movie, then out of nowhere come the opening credit sequence. I will admit, I thought it would be different, but I’m glad that it is the way it is, the movie is 80% of the time in Joel’s head.

    If you think you know Carrey, think again. This movie is his best performance, better than Majestic, Truman show and all of his comedic roles (which is what I love him for). Just looking at his face from the second we see him, we feel his pain, then like that, we feel his joy, embarrassment and hate. Just awesome acting on his part, and Winslet was great as the free spirit who never seems satisfied. The supporting cast all work well in their small, yet important roles. Oscar nominations for Winslet and (crosses fingers) Carrey.

    But if I were to bet any money on any Oscar nominations it would obviously be the writing, what a mess, but beautifully constructed. You think to yourself, is that scene really necessary? Then ten minutes later you think to yourself how brilliant it was, that’s beautiful, crazy, give me whatever he’s smoking kind of writing. Charlie Kaufman’s writing is always clever, but this time he’s one-upped himself by making something simultaneously bizarre and emotionally engaging. It seemed like his earlier movies were clever for the sake of cleverness, but ‘Eternal Sunshine’ manages to dazzle you with it’s originality and it’s poignancy. The fact that this movie was able to wrap such profound loss, emotional tenderness, and hope in such a self-consciously stylized package illustrates the incredible talent of the people behind it.

    Michel Gondry’s use of vibrant coloring and quick camera movement give the film a very involving first hand feeling. The constant use of the handy cam is very all involving for the viewer, and I suppose that this is exactly what is needed in such a personal movie. His work on the dream sequences is incredible as well. He decides to use more practical effects than what we see today with computers.

    Eternal Sunshine is a tragic, yet beautiful film that sits at the top of my list of “Best of 2004”.

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