Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Retrospective Movie Review)

Note: I was going to review Twilight this week, but no decent torrent has emerged online and I refuse to pay for it. To compensate, I wrote a review of a movie I liked when I was younger to see if it holds up. Frankly I don't think it's my best work, but you might disagree. Enjoy.

Few movies are as frustrating as the romantic comedy, a genre that desperately tries to satisfy everyone and in the process offers little more than a mediocre experience overall. Romantic comedies would be infinitely far better received if they just focused their efforts, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind attempts just that. It has its sights fixed squarely on introspective drama and offers a few cheap laughs to keep the cynical bastard like myself awake. Unfortunately, that's not always enough.

Joel (Jim Carrey) is a miserable sad sack who pours himself onto the page when he isn't chastising himself for his inability to live an exciting life. Clementine (Kate Winslet) is an eccentric whore who enjoys potato figurines when she's not dying her hair a shade of vomit and food colouring. These two were once madly in love but have since fallen out with each other, and the impulsive prostitute decides that voluntary brain damage courtesy of Lacuna Inc. (ineptly run by Mark Ruffalo, Kirsten Dunst, Tom Wilkinson, and Elijah Wood) is the best solution. Joel opts for the same procedure, but begins to reject it as his memories are being erased.


"Would you erase me?"
"Err... Do you want the right answer or the honest answer?"

The entire movie, or at least the parts that are worth paying attention to, occurs in Joel's mind as it is being ransacked and pillaged. Memories drunkenly crash into each other, which does admittedly make for interesting imagery even if the whole process does reek of the "weird for the sake of weird" vibe. Back in dreary old reality, a love triangle develops between the employees of Lacuna Inc. all for the sake of one inconsequential plot point that could've certainly been included more efficiently, or even cut out altogether since it just creates one massive continuity error.

Characterization is poor. The actors do well, the plot is solid, but the scripting is amateur. Dialogue doesn't drive the movie so much as the movie drags the dialogue kicking and screaming through the mud. Drenching the leads in clichés of angst and paranoia certainly makes them compelling (not for me of course, but I'm assuming it works for the average person), but that doesn't excuse them from becoming caricatures of themselves before the end credits. Jim Carrey's first lines lament the commercialization of Valentine's Day... how unique, clever, and insightful. While drawing attitudes and personality traits from a hat, and then stapling them to vapid mannequins might pass for depth, all it takes is slight ripple to gauge how shallow the water really is.

Superficiality dominates the proceedings. Everything is driven by wishy-washy feelings and emotions, which I personally find difficult to stand behind. The same reason the characters like each other is the same reason they hate each other, which is coincidentally the same reason they make great colleagues or enjoy friendly curling matches. Nothing that happens in the film ever really clicks or makes sense because there is no reason beforehand and no consequence afterwards. Getting caught in the spectacle is the only enjoyable aspect of the movie because despite every effort to try and make the characters likable and sincere, it just comes off as trying too hard.

Personally, I loved this movie, although I can see your points about the amateur dialogue and a bit of weak characterization. However the one of a kind plot, in my opinion, completely makes up for those flaws.

If you haven't already seen it, you should watch 'Being John Malkovich.' It's written by Charlie Kaufman, the same guy who did Eternal Sunshine, but 'Being' is about a hundred times better. There's less tacked on dialogue and weak emotion, and they don't even try to make most of the characters likable, cause every character in that movie is a sick fuck.

The only problem with Being John Malkovich is that John Cusack was a miscast, by far. He's always quirky and likable, in BJM he's obsessive, arrogant, and just a wee bit crazy.

Still, both movies are great. I cried during one scene in Eternal Sunshine. >_>

I didn't like this movie at all. The story just didn't grab me and i thought it was downright silly =/

Heh. I just saw this movie - it was the first I watched via Netflix on my 360.

The idea behind the movie is interesting enough, but it became a chore to watch as they constantly flipped back and forth from reality, to Joel's mind, to his house, etc. The actors were good enough I suppose, but, even though he did a fine job, I still couldn't take Jim Carrey seriously in this more serious role. The entire time I was thinking to myself, "This is the guy from Me, Myself, and Irene? No way!"

I did like the ending though - wrapped everything up nicely.


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