Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Dir. Michel Gondry
108 min; Starring Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Tom Wilkinson, Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood and Kirsten Dunst
"How happy is the blameless vestal's lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd;"
- Alexander Pope, Eloise to Abelard
I've been begining each of my reviews with a quote from the film in question, but I wanted to begin this with the excerpt from Pope's poem, which is in the film anyway, but really it's Pope's words. As Mary says in the film, "It just seems appropriate."
I was happy to see the film get some recognition at the Golden Globe Awards last night, mostly because it truly is a fantastic film and also because so often films that are released at the beginning of the year are forgotten by the awards people (ironically this film wasn't forgotten, and even Jim Carrey was recognized for the touching and, yes, subtle performance as Joel. The only thing that I was a little bit peeved by is that the film was classified as a comedy. Yes, there is some funny parts in the film, but this isn't first and foremost a funny movie. It's a touching and challenging film about the nature of love and memory and connecting with another person. I think this is as dramatic as life gets.
I enjoyed both Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, both from screenwriter Charlie Kaufman. But I think that here Kaufman has gone beyond the cleverness of those films and created something that is clever, but also has heart and characters for whom we can feel pathos. This is an amazingly clever story, but the cleverness isn't the point. The emotions and questions are the real point. Furthermore Michel Gondry (the music video genius) directs this film with flare and excitement, but never overwhelms the material. His visual style complements everything about this film.
I don't really want to say anything about the plot, but rather I just want to watch the film again. [At this point I had to go eat supper, but after supper I went out and bought the DVD and then came home and watched it]
I cried when I watched this movie. It's a masterpiece. Again, the caveat that rankings are somewhat aribitrary. The performances in the film are uniformily masterful. Jim and Kate are wonderful. I really thought Kirstin Dunst was amazing (she's a much better actress than people realize, I think). Mark Ruffalo is always great as is Tom Wilkinson. I had forgotten that even my man David Cross has a small supporting role in the film.
In the end though, it's the emotional impact of the film that does it for me. I remember seeing it in theatres with my then girlfriend and we were both really stirred by the film. Funny enough, we're not together now, but I haven't erased her from my memory. And I'm thankful for the memories, no matter how much I might miss her. I'm reminded of a post I made back before Christmas when talking about sad love songs, "If it hurts this bad, it must have mattered." In Eternal Sunshine, the artists involved understood that aspect of life. It's not a "feel-good" film, but it's optimistic in the sense that it sends a message that life is worth living. That love is a good thing, even if it doesn't last.
I think it's been a rare year for movies where we've had several wonderful love stories put on film. This is one for the ages.
"This is it, Joel. It's going to be gone soon."
"What do we do?"