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.