Joel (Carrey) and Clementine (Winslet) have always had a tumultuous relationship but Joel is shocked to find that Clementine has had all memories of their relationship erased. In order to forget the woman that he still loves, he decides to undergo the same highly experimental procedure. But as the painful memories are erased he begins to remember the passion and love they had for each other and so he tries to hide these memories in other parts of his brain...
Screenwriters rarely develop a distinctive voice that can be recognized from movie to movie, but the ornate imagination of Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich
) has made him a unique and much-needed cinematic presence. In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
, a guy decides to have the memories of his ex-girlfriend erased after she's had him erased from her own memory--but midway through the procedure, he changes his mind and struggles to hang on to their experiences together. In other hands, the premise of memory-erasing would become a trashy science-fiction thriller; Kaufman, along with director Michel Gondry, spins this idea into a funny, sad, structurally complex, and simply enthralling love story that juggles morality, identity, and heartbreak with confident skill. The entire cast--Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Elijah Wood, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Wilkinson, and more--give superb performances, carefully pitched so that cleverness never trumps feeling. A great movie. --Bret Fetzer
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