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Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Retro Review: Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (2004)

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Cast: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood, Tom Wilkinson
Genre: Romantic Science-Fiction, Comedy Drama
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $72 million 

Plot: When their relationship turns sour, a young couple undergoes a medical procedure to have each other erased from their memories

'The Sun Didn't Shine On My Mind'

Cited as the last notable and major hit for Jim Carrey, Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind is also his most impressive dramatic film and performance, as he is at his absolute core. However, this is unsettled by a story about love, the lost of love and attempting to get rid of what is making us unhappy to make us happy, that doesn't make attempts to get to the heart of it and its core characters, with the film eventually disintergrating with its overlong and bloated feel that it becomes so overwrought I found myself struggling and seemingly at a lost at where the movie was ultimately heading. 

Jim Carrey's Joel takes a day off work to go to Long Island as a trip when he meets a woman named Clementine (Kate Winslet) for the first time. The two instantly hit it off and then they fall in love. Later on, it is revealed that they are meeting for a second time and after sleeping with each other, Clementine is tired of Joel and goes to see a psychiatrist to erase her thoughts and memories of Joel. When he finds out about this, he consents to have his own memories of Clementine removed by Dr. Mierzwiak's technicians, played by Mark Ruffalo and Elijah Wood. Yet, they of whom are who interested in fooling around with Mierzwiak's assistant, and alas, the procedure is only partially successful. Eventually, Joel has a change of heart and decides he doesn't want his thoughts of Clementine erased, after all.

Kate Winslet is one of those UK performers who can pull off the American accent so convincingly as Clementine, the girl Joel falls for. Carrey is at his heartfelt, impassioned and sincerest as Joel who sees to it that love and falling in love isn't as simple and straightforward as he expects. He strips away the cheery goofiness in favour of a serious, introverted performance that eschews his dramatic talents, which is also tinged with tragedy. 

This is Carrey's Punch, Drunk, Love/Awakenings/Good Will Hunting, but there is also that fantasy, quirkiness & ultra-high concept that goes with the territory. I had several issues with this film, with one of them being that it drifts off in so many directions I lose track of what is going on and where the story is going. It's very confusing. I was equally frustrated at that with Joel and Clementine and the other supporting characters that I could not resonate with either of them, but alas, this wasn't helped by a story which the longer it went on, the more difficult it was to follow. But I liked that this was a tragi-tale, yet the way this was handled should have been far meatier and entertaining to boot. Yet it just wasn't. The performances were good to very impressive, with Winslet, both charming and difficult as Clementine and Carrey playing his part like a pro and they pretty much save this film from being completely forgettable. Inasfar as their pairing goes, however, I never felt it when they were together.

I was really hoping and expecting to love this film and buy into its hype. Having been dissapointed in Man On The Moon and The Truman Show, I was hoping that this film would change my views on Jim Carrey's dramatic films and that with this serial drama that I will enjoy as much as his comedic performances, but it just didn't transcend as well for me. He's a terrific actor & I enjoy his comedy stuff, but in terms of dramatic films, I never truly got into them as much. If you are looking for an intellectual, less trivial look at relationships and love, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind is it, but from an emotional investment into the characters, ultimately, the pay-off is not so grand and as a romantic dramedy, it never fully got right into the heart of the characters' emotions and that it was done in a way that wasn't more accessible for the general audience to get to grips with. & that, especially, is what lets me down. Charlie Kaufman and Michel Gondry seemed to be more keen on method and being quirky over substance. Sure many romantic comedies are like this as well, but they are mostly throwaway and terrible. Eternal Sunshine isn't terrible, I was just underwhelmed.

This is one of the most unconventional takes on the romantic comedy-drama format, which I have no quarrels with; I like that this is not a typical rom-com the likes you have heard, read and seen million times over that is Woody Allen-ish also - it's just a shame that script should have yielded to something that was far more promising, engrossing and entertaining in its portrayal of love and relationships. The second act was the most grueling for me to endure and the longer it went on, the less I cared about the characters and what happened to them that the film wears off. & the subplot with the doctor and assistant, wasn't that convincing, and but for their last scene towards the end, the relationship didn't feel believable enough.

Romantic movies are usually a 'loathe' thing for me and so I do enjoy very few of them - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind doesn't fall into the former, but having said that, I was so equally disappointed that the story really underwhelmed me and my perception of this film, given the critical acclaim it has received. The performances, just about, save it from being terrible and watching today, it did little to make an utterly profound effect and to become a movie that I truly wanted to love in droves and to appreciate. I appreciate the effort being put in, from all quarters but, wholeheartedly, I didn't appreciate that this film really took me away, when it should have captivated, entertained and pulled me right in. Instead, I felt confused, at times, disinterested and so distant from it and its characters.

Final Verdict:

It's a film that should have offered more; unfortunately, Eternal Sunshine fails to resonate on an emotional level for me. Movies that deal with romantic relationships of two people have to grind out that emotional depth, which is generally a requirement in many successful and commercial rom-com offerings that audiences expect, as well that entertainment-factor and chemistry that the onscreen star pairing exudes; however, with this effort, it just didn't go far enough.


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