In watching Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind one is bound to consider the film as constituting a mini-genre that excellently copes with reverse order storytelling and memory loss. It is very emotionally resonant in culminating with the best techniques and imagination used in the art of taking the viewer to pleasurable extremes of creativity as demonstrated by director Michel Gondry. The film is a romance story that winds up at the beginning itself a very seductive purpose for a love story. There has been a considerable critical reaction in triggering the buzz amongst astute audiences for this film but there has also been box office applause from the fans of Jim Carrey who has significantly deviated from the usual manic fare that he is normally engaged in within his other roles.
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The film is revolutionary in asking people the question of whether they would have their memory removed from their awareness if given the choice to do so. This is the query put forth by the director Charlie Kaufman in his film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The film is a typical time-twisting assessment of love and memory and the evolvement of an individual through such tender moments. The film combines lighter constituents of science fiction along with the line of thinking that goes with the present-day world. The director has constructed a confusing link between the main characters and the spectators which is astonishingly emotional in appealing to human conditions, experiences and personalities.
The first few minutes of the opening sequence recount in a rather charming way the beginning of an off-beat relationship between Joel Barish (Carrey) and Clementine Kruczynski (Winslet). Joel is portrayed as an awkward and inward man who is about to pass into middle age without the maturity that goes with his age group. Clementine reveals qualities resembling a spirit of boldness and humor that adequately cover her self-acknowledged needs for emotion. The two meet on Valentine’s Day in 2004 when Joel impulsively decides to skip work and roam around a deserted area on the eastern part of Long Island. It is the spontaneous passes from Clementine that carry them forward in going on a long train ride to visit her apartment and then on to an amusing trip the next night on the frozen river in Boston. The initial meetings create an immense bonding potential between the two with Clementine’s playful initiatives that aimed at making Joel come out of his shell in the same way as his quietness appeared to pull her towards him.
It becomes rather disorienting to see Joel approaching Clementine three days before Valentine’s Day in a very familiar way when she does not recognize him. At the same time, Joel also sees a card belonging to a company called Lacuna that tells him that Clementine has recently had her memory about him totally erased from her brain. Having been transferred into depression mode, Joel too visits the office of Lacuna and conveys his decision to undergo the same procedure for himself. Although Dr. Howard Mierzwiak (Tom Wilkinson) informed in answering Joel’s apprehensions that there would be no damage to the brain, he implied that the process in itself would entail similar effects as experienced from a night of drinking. Consequently, the memories in Joel’s mind of Clementine from the earliest to the most recent are erased. In the reverse trail that is taking place, there are unusual upward swings of the romance although it is constantly weakened with the awareness that these good and bad memories are being removed forever. This is also perceived by Joel who is supposed to be unconscious and literally begs to have one part of the pleasurable memory remain intact. During the night-long emotional reversals that Joel experiences Dr. Mierzwiak is visited by Patrick, Clementine’s new suitor, and others and it is at this time that Dr. Mierzwiak reveals what is least expected in being a startling confession that changes his life as also that of others.
The mannerism in which the film opens with the mental and chronological backtracking is charming and very satisfying. The narrative expressions and game played with time could be rather extreme and must have been concluded with a lot of difficulties, but the results are soothingly graceful as portrayed on the screen. The emotional dynamics in the film and the touching reflections that define one’s personality cannot be missed. There is value and richness in both negative and positive memories in the overall idea of life as portrayed in the film. Gondry’s approach in delicately characterizing the themes as controlled by the handheld camera work resulted in creative evolution in the scenes.
Winslet has surprised many who have mostly seen her in typical costume roles, in being extremely spontaneous, witty, and displaying emotional transparency. In contrast, Carrey appears to be rather tamped down to the extent that sometimes it is difficult to understand what has happened to Joel in making him backtrack so much. He appears quite mucky with his sunken cheeks, scruffy beard, and the knit hat that is worn low over his head. Joel is depicted as a man who needs emotional revival which is why he becomes a likely objective for attention from Clementine. Ultimately the restraint exhibited by Carrey fits perfectly with Winslet’s lack of restraint. The film is filled with supporting roles by attractive and colorful actors who afford extra energy to the story that exists to a substantial level in a dream-like world.
Even though the film sounds bizarre and complicated, it is brilliant and great work. All the actors have given shining performances, especially Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey. Public opinion has vouched for the fact that they have performed excellently both inside and outside of Joel’s head. Their romance and chemistry have been very well depicted on-screen and are quite believable. The film is written brilliantly by Charlie Kaufman, who appears to be getting better with each of his scripts. The look and editing of the film are done very well also. It is fairly abrupt in several situations whereby it loops back and forth in regard to the activities in Joel’s brain and the real world situations outside of the brain. Imagery in the film is rather stylish in showing the entire agony-filled nightmare that Joel goes through. It is very much evident that lot of pains and efforts have gone into making the final product by the editor and director, Michel Gondry, who has shown his skills of excellent film making in this film.
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