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Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
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563 of 597 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 2004
When you hear the basic storyline of "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," it sounds like another one of those "wacky" romantic comedies that they love to put out every month. However, when you realize that this is written by Charlie Kaufman (who also wrote "Adaptation" and "Being John Malkovich"), then you know that this will be a very different movie. This is such an enjoyable, hilarious and a brutally honest film that has immediately become a favorite of mine.

Jim Carrey plays "Joel;" a quiet and shy person who keeps to himself most of the time. He's bummed out when he discovers that his girlfriend had a new procedure done in where she has erased him from her memory. Not knowing what else to do, Joel decides that he must get the same thing done to him and goes to the clinic to have her erased from his memory, hoping that the pain and sadness will go away. When he's undergoing the procedure, unconscious and reliving the memories as they are being erased, Joel begins to realize that there were some very happy moments he had with her and he doesn't want to lose them after all.

It's really hard to categorize a movie like this. While it is indeed a comedy on some levels, it has a lot of dramatic elements to it, as well. Because of this, people will either fall in love with it or despise every minute of it. What really struck home with me is how honest and creative it really is. You'll find a lot more honesty and truth in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" than in most of the "cute" comedies that are out there today. It is extremely easy to relate to the characters, and that is what makes it all the more realistic for us. Jim Carrey is absolutely fantastic in this, as he is very controlled and doesn't try to steal the show. This is when you really get to see his acting skills shine. Kate Winslet takes the challenge of playing opposite of Carrey head-on and succeeds every single time. We cannot forget about Elijah Wood, Mark Ruffalo, Kirsten Dunst and Tom Wilkinson, who also make the movie that much more entertaining.

What I really admire about the movie is the theme of it, and that is that just because a relationship doesn't work out in the end, it doesn't mean that it was time wasted. Sure, there are certain memories we wish would go away somehow, but how would that change us as a person if we could do such a thing? We learn from our experiences; from the good and the bad. That's how we mature as human-beings, and Kaufman's clever writing really establishes that perfectly. The DVD has some cool extras, such as behind-the-scenes documentaries, audio commentary from the writer and the director, deleted scenes and more.

"Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" remains the best film to come out of 2004 for me. It's strange, yet clever; funny yet sad, and imaginative, yet honest. If you're looking for a risk-taking film that is like a breath of fresh air, then I highly recommend this excellent picture. This can possibly be the best movie of Jim Carrey's career. Take a chance and find out why so many people are raving about it in the first place. -Michael Crane
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209 of 246 people found the following review helpful
on March 10, 2004
ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, which I saw tonight in an advance screening, is the most twisted, original romantic comedy I've seen in a long time. Coming from the mind of Charlie Kaufman, this film is luckily more in the vein of BEING JOHN MALKOVICH and ADAPTATION than HUMAN NATURE.
The film, which operates on the premise that people can delete bad relationships from their memories, travels essentially backward down its story's timeline. It examines several key themes regarding compatibility, fate and how our memories can make up who we are.
Jim Carrey, who plays his role of Joel straight rather than wacky, delivers his best and most human performance since THE TRUMAN SHOW. But the movie, thankfully, belongs to Kate Winslet. As Clementine, the girlfriend who Joel wants to either love or forget, Winslet is wacky, colorful and hilarious - the sort of girl you want to either love or strangle.
While their central story plays out mostly within Joel's brain, several equally interesting subplots emerge involving the memory-erasing workers played by Kirsten Dunst, Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood and Tom Wilkinson.
The thing I like best about Charlie Kaufman scripts is that I don't always know where they're going but, in the end, they cover all their bases, address all the philosophical questions inherent in their twisted plots and always leave me entertained. ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND is a terrific movie.
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79 of 93 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2004
I think that people who say that there's no such thing as an original plot ought to see this movie and see if they still believe it afterwards.
"Eternal Sunshine" is just as creative as "Being John Malkovich" but without the characters who did despicable things (i.e. taking over people's bodies) in the latter movie. Instead, the story centers around Joel (Jim Carrey) and Clementine (Kate Winslet) who are two very appealing "nice people."
I'm a guy, so naturally my eyes are on Kate Winslet. She really does merit the description that one critic gave her, "very easy to fall in love with" (I know I have). Besides this movie, I've seen her in two other great roles in "Sense and Sensibility" and "Enigma." In "Eternal Sunshine" she plays the shy man's dream girl: a wacky, flaky woman who lights up every scene that she's in. Yet she's also a wounded spirit, fighting a problem with alcohol.
Jim Carrey does a fine job playing Clementine's soul mate (and in some ways her polar opposite). He's a quiet introspective man with none of the trademark Carrey goofiness. Joel is someone I could readily imagine being, unlike if the role was played by better known actors who never play anything less than flawless human beings.
I won't spoil the plot beyond the fact that I thought it was a life-affirming story about the part of a love affair that usually gets short shrift, when people either come to terms with or fail to come to terms with the shortcomings of their significant others. The special effects and science-fiction conceit of memory erasure give the love story of Clementine and Joel a lift that a more straightforward narrative would lack.
On a final note: some people will probably read the script that is available on the Internet before seeing this movie. I did and sort of wish I hadn't because the movie would have been a little fresher to me. However, those who did read the script and were put off by the ending there should go see "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" anyway because the movie's outcome is infinitely better.
I hope that there's a Clementine out there for me somewhere. Until then, I at least have a memory of a very nice romantic comedy that left me a little teary eyed at the end --but in a good way. I would only erase it if I could get to watch it again.
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46 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on March 11, 2004
I've never submitted a review before, cause I never had a reason to. I was lucky that I got a chance to see the sneak preview. I had no idea what it was about before seeing it. I think sometimes it's better that way. Nothing was given away before it was meant to, and you have no false expectations before seeing the movie.
It is, by far, one of the best movies I've seen in a long time. And there were some good ones in the past few years. It makes you really appreciate life, all the good and all the bad, and it will move you if you've ever been in a relationship. But in general anyone should and could appreciate this movie. It has some neat special effects that isn't over the top. Very appropriate and subtle that simply compliments the movie. It's a thinking movie, in that afterwards it gives you a different perspective on your current, past, and maybe future relationship (if you still remember by that time). And I think it's for the better.
I don't want to give anything away, and ruin your experience with the movie. Go with an open mind. You'll enjoy it, I promise.
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32 of 37 people found the following review helpful
Charlie Kaufman is known for creating films that bend the mind -- "Being John Malkovich," "Adaptation," "Human Nature." But he takes a slightly different turn in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," a sort of romantic dark comedy that raises questions about memory and identity. It may not be the best of Kaufman's work, but it's in some ways the most endearing.
Uptight Joel (Jim Carrey) is shocked to learn that his likably flaky ex-girlfriend Clementine (Kate Winslet) has taken unusual measures, post-breakup. She's having her memories of him erased from her brain at Lacuna Inc. When he learns WHY she broke up with him (she thought he was boring), he gets mad and decides to have the same thing done to himself.
So a group of offbeat techies and doctors (Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood and Kirsten Dunst) begin to erase the memories of Clementine from Joel's brain (Wood's character also tries to use Joel's memories to seduce Clementine). Problem is, his brain doesn't want to let them go. It pokes Clementine into parts of his memory where she doesn't belong, so he won't have to let go. And viewing the memories makes him fall in love all over again...
"Dark romantic comedy" is the closest thing that "Eternal Sunshine" has to a description. Like Kaufman's other films, it's funny in a subtle way, and more obviously sweet and romantic. Not to mention thought-provoking. If you could erase unpleasant memories, would you do it, if it changed the person you were? If we get rid of the pain, do we also get rid of the joy?
Michel Gondry is best known for his work on Bjork, Radiohead and White Stripes music videos -- deliciously strange ones. Somehow, he fits perfectly into directing "Eternal Sunshine." A trip through a person's brain is a hard thing to manage, but he does it -- surreal little images like a teeny tiny Winslet and Carrey bathing in a kitchen sink, or lying on the ice. It's weird, and it works. At the same time, he can capture more mundane moments well.
Jim Carrey gives what may be his best "serious" role ever, as the conflicted, lovelorn Joel. Kate Winslet's Clementine breaks the mold of "romantic comedy heroine" with her free-spirited wackiness. Together, they make a flawed couple that you really want to see together. And Elijah Wood takes what could have been an empty role and turns Patrick into a rather pitiful, lonely figure, rather than a 2-D creep.
"Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" is not the best from Charlie Kaufman's fertile brain, but this melancholy dark comedy is well worth checking out. A wonderful, prismatic film.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
The Film:

I won't wax too rhapsodic about the movie itself. Others have done so effusively. I can say, without reservation, that this is my personal favorite film of all time. I have watched it a good 10 to 15 times, and it rewards me upon each viewing. I think it's one of the most affecting, well-observed, and *real* portrayals of a relationship ever committed to celluloid. The structure of the story is inordinately clever, and the performances are superb.

The Blu-Ray:

What I am reviewing here is the blu-ray edition. I have owned and watched the DVD since its release. So 14 of 15 viewings were in 480p, and now my 15th was in a new 1080p transfer. This is an upgrade, certainly. Detail, color, and contrast are quite a bit stronger than the DVD transfer. There is nothing that takes away from the presentation generally, such as edge enhancement or obtrusive Digital Noise Reduction. It is not competitive with some of the best Blu-Ray material on the market today, but this owes more to the soft, dreamy, somewhat hazy filming style, than to any technical deficiency of the disc. Don't get me wrong - this looks better than the best cable or satellite HD. It is just middling in terms of Blu-Rays. You shouldn't be getting this in order to "demo" your new A/V setup. You should be getting this because you love the movie.

The extras are a direct port from the DVD. If it was there, it's here. None are upgraded to higher resolution, but this is to be expected. There are no new extras. The extras are quite good, it should be said (with the exception of the short EPK "documentary"), so it's nice that none have been dropped.

Conclusion:

I gave this 4 stars because it's not the sort of "home run" upgrade that simply demands to be purchased no matter what editions you already own (DVD to BD upgrades in this category include 2001, Fight Club, Star Trek The Original Series). Instead, this is a competent Blu-Ray that, while it definitely improves on the previous transfer, is not the sort of revelatory experience that the aforementioned discs represent. The lack of new extras make this less of a value proposition, too.

If you don't own it already, then definitely buy this one. If you are only a minor fan and own the DVD, stick with that. If you're a huge fan (as I am), then go ahead and get it, but wait for a good deal. I'm very happy with my purchase, but can't help but feel that this film might have deserved a bit more window-dressing.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Jim Carrey does very well in this highly unusual drama. If you are considering purchasing this DVD, go with the 2-disk "Special Edition".

MY IMPRESSIONS OF THE FILM:

The chronology of this film is unconventionally ordered, but it is not just for the sake of being different. I got this DVD for my 16-year-old daughter to watch as she is a big Jim Carrey fan, but I found the movie to be more compelling for me than I expected. Jim Carrey's role was serious and he was superb. The supporting cast, a rather eclectic ensemble were perfect for the role, especially Kate Winslet as Carrey's very weird significant other [Clementine] and Tom Wilkinson as the mad scientist/doctor who appears as staid and perfectly mainstream as everyone's family doctor or dentist. Wilkinson's mundane delivery of really profound statements is shockingly powerful. One instance has Carrey [Joel Barish] asking Wilkinson [Dr.Mierzwiak] if the procedure could cause brain damage to which the good doctor replied blandly, "Technically speaking, it is brain damage, but nothing you will miss; like a night of heavy drinking." The result of all this is a huge and unexpected emotional connection and investment in the characters based completely on a ridiculous premise.

So well done is the character driven theme of this movie that I found myself believing that all this was possible while simultaneously wrenching over the pain Joel and Clementine were going through as a result of this relentlessly-irreversible procedure.

ABOUT THE DVD:

The transfer is great, as expected being a mega-budget new release. As far as the features go, I expected much more due to the really intriguing nature of the film. We'll have to settle for a pretend TV commercial featuring Dr. Mierzwiak and his new memory-erasing procedure, a small featurette, and a few deleted scenes. In the new "2-disk Special Edition" we can see some additional cool features but for those of us who already bought the first widescreen or fullscreen DVD release it is a bummer.

If you are considering the purchase of this film, go with the 2-Disk "Special Edition" because you'll get DTS stereo audio as well as the additional special features in the bargain.

OVERALL:THIS FILM DESERVES REPEATED VIEWINGS

My daughter and I have watched this film at least 10 times and we have yet to tire of it. We both feel it is Carrey at his best in a new and very effective role. It is a film that one understands and enjoys more the second time. See what you think!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
I'm sure watching this a few times will have the effect of erasing any confusion you might have. I am sure. But...well, I can't recall if I ever saw this film. Yet, yet... There's Jim Carrey in my mind playing a straight role. Sorta straight. Actually Kate Winslet has most of the good comedic lines. I can't tell whether she was once a girl friend of mine or if I watched her in a movie. She says she's high maintenance and she has to have a different color for her hair every week. Yeah, I remember her. My god she was nice. Quirky, but nice.

And then she erased all memory of me. I saw her in this book store and she pretended she didn't know me. Didn't know me! Wow, after all we had been through. I mean she's an emotional roller coaster. And that really dissed me off so I had my memory of her erased. And then we began to see each other in strange places, on the beach--but that was right. I met her on the beach. But then I was a child and she was there under the kitchen table, and my mom washed me in the sink and I felt so secure and Clementine oh my darling you are lost and gone forever, dreadful sorry Clementine was so, so sweet and so so pretty and just a nut case.

And then there's Kirsten Dunst, she of the incredibly agreeable figure, dancing over my body as I lay electronically stoned. Mary, her name is. She and the doc had this fling. He would get her to somehow seduce him and then erase the memory and then get her to do it again. Really bummed his wife out.

Oh, but Clem and I are here as on a darkling plain where ignorant armies clash by night and I think something's missing, the ground or the sky or some wall or maybe something is fused together that shouldn't be fused together, like this old house on the beach that Clem broke into, I mean she has balls, and I was just a fraidy cat, and wait, wait, I am gaining control. She and I together are chasing down the missing parts of our memories erased by the evil Lacuna Inc. people. All these memory movies going through my head--Memento (2000) especially, by Christopher Nolan. There's something going on here with these memory movies. I think Oliver Sacks has something to do with it. Are we just our memories, and who would we be without our memories? Would life be worth living? If we just lived in the here and the now would we be animals?

Anyway, this is a love story, the love story of my life. But is it possible to selectively erase memories? I mean creating lacunar infarcts on purpose? Is that legal? It is safe? Lacunar infarcts come from strokes that leave little blank spaces in your brain so that you're missing something like the memory of your first kiss or the time you saw Wayne's World..

Okay, this is science fiction like Vanilla Sky (2001) with Tom Cruise and Penelope Cruz. The dialogue is really sharp with all sorts of witticism written mostly by screenwriter Charlie Kaufman who also wrote the script for Being John Malkovich (1999). Need I say more? I mean clever with a capital K. By the way, idle thought: Clementine's last name is Kruczynski. Isn't that the Unibomber's last name, good old Ted? No, that was Kaczynski. Okay, never mind. Anyway, here's a clever line: "Are we like couples you see in restaurants? Are we the dining dead?" I think I said that, or wish I had. Or, "Drink up young man. It'll make the whole seduction part less repugnant." She said that, and I guess she oughta know, heaven help us, from first hand experience.

Look, if I ever, but ever, get a chance to fall in love with Kate Winslet, please, please, do NOT erase the memory. Thank you.

Bottom line: bizarro and entertaining, witty and cute, with a nice cast. And Jim Carrey as a straight up kinda guy is a terrific actor, and Kate, well I'll tell you a secret, gentlemen. You can see a full frontal sans clothes shot of her in the movie Jude (1996). Yes. Also worth watching is her debut film Heavenly Creatures (1994) shot when she was 18.

One last line, as Joel says, "Constantly talking isn't necessarily communicating."
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36 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on March 22, 2004
The words Charlie Kaufman and simple shouldn't really be put in the same sentence, but in the end, this movie is a simple love story. The story revolves around Joel Barish/Jim Carrey who meets Clementine/Kate Winslet and thus begins their tumultuous relationship. They break up. She gets her memories of him removed at Lacuna Inc. Joel finds out the hard way after a failed attempt at trying to reconcile their relationship to find she doesn't have any idea who he is and decides to have the procedure done too just to spite her.
I too have posed the question of whether or not, if given the opportunity, I would have unpleasant memories erased. The thing is, I think the story proved that you can erase the memory, but the idea will always be there (as is the case with both Celmentine/Joel as with Mary and Howard.)
I loved the way Gondry shot the movie going in one instance at the bookstore Clementine works at and fading as Joel walks in the next room where he is visiting friends. I know it's nothing revoluntionary, but it stood out for me.
I must also admit, that these past few years, I've had a new grown respect for Jim Carrey as an actor. When he first started out, he annoyed the living crap out of me with, what I felt, were pointless excuses for him to put $15 million in his pocket. However, ever since "The Truman Show" he has chosen roles which are different from the ones we're used to. This role, in particular, was interesting in that Joel Barish is a quiet introvert who pretty much keeps to himself which is, what I think, the total opposite of what we usually see with Jim Carrey.
The rest of the cast, did an excellent job as well. It took me a while to adapt to Elijah Wood's turn as a stalker type of character who stole Joel's possessions which reminded him of Clementine in order to woo her. However, it was welcomed considering that I spent the last 3 years watching him as a humble hobbit.
If you're a fan of Kaufman, don't waste any time, go see this movie. In my book, nothing has yet to top "Being John Malkovich," but it is one his best in my opinion.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on June 9, 2004
I've got this habit of reading the lowest rated comments, first.
And no matter how many I read for this movie, none of them seem valid.
Of course the movie is confusing. It's Charlie Kaufman. This movie doesn't flow, it glides. It flies. And if you stop paying attention for even a split second, you could and will get completely thrown off.
In a country obsessed with disorders of the attention span, it's no wonder so many people disliked the concept. It makes people do what they don't want to do, and that's think.
One of the best movies I have seen in all my years.
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