6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind [DVD]  (DVD)
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.