"An Acquired Taste"
What You Need To Know:
ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND is a miscast, ill-conceived work that probably will bore as many people as it will enthrall. The relationship between Joel and Clementine, who’s played by an unappealing Kate Winslet, is irritating and confusing. The other characters are equally unattractive. Though clever in parts, the movie also contains lots of strong foul language and some adult sexual themes.
(H, PaPa, B, LLL, V, S, N, AA, DD, M) Humanist worldview with some strong pagan elements and light moral elements; about 36 obscenities, 14 strong profanities, and 16 light profanities; light violence such as drugged man collapses; implied fornication, young woman passionately kisses older married man, implied cohabitation, and mention of past adulterous fling; rear male nudity; alcohol use and drunkenness; smoking, marijuana use, and man takes drug before medical procedure; and, medical assistant abuses his position by misusing patient’s information.
GENRE: Romantic Comedy
One of the most interesting theories about cinema art compares movies to the dreams that occur when human beings are sleeping. This theory posits that movies are like a public dream, and dreams are like a private movie. Therefore, it is just as fruitful to examine the unconscious, psychological, and inner meanings and metaphors of movies as it is to examine their surface, concrete, and external meanings.
ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND is a dream-like experience that lends itself to such a comparison. It’s a bizarre romantic comedy developed by the unique mind of Charlie Kaufman, the creative force behind such critically acclaimed works as BEING JOHN MALKOVICH and ADAPTATION. Kaufman developed his script from an idea by French artist Pierre Bismuth.
Funnyman Jim Carrey stars in the comedy as Joel Barish, a scruffy, extremely shy young man who wakes up one wintry morning with an urge to visit the seashore. On his trip, he runs into a crazy young woman named Clementine, who is very friendly and off-putting at the same time. They begin a romance, but one day soon thereafter, Joel is stunned to get a card from a doctor telling him that Clementine has erased Joel from her memory, so don’t attempt to contact her again.
Out of desperation, Joel goes to the doctor himself, asking him to remove Clementine from his own memory. The doctor and his goofy assistants, Patrick and Stan, begin the process. One night, after Joel takes heavy medication, Patrick and Stan invade his apartment and begin to erase all of Joel’s memories of Clementine. Joel, however, tries to unconsciously evade the procedure. As the doctor and his assistants chase Joel and Clementine through the maze of his memories, the past and the present start to blend together, revealing some interesting facts and secrets.
Directed by Michel Gondry, ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND is a miscast, ill-conceived work that probably will bore as many people as it will enthrall. The relationship between Joel and Clementine, who’s played by an unappealing Kate Winslet, is irritating and confusing. The other characters and actors are equally unattractive.
Furthermore, although the movie takes a moral stance against playing around with people’s memories, no matter the motive, the filmmakers seem to take a humanist view toward romance. They fail to realize, as does Mr. Kaufman in his other movies, that, ultimately, humanism results in nihilism. Without God, every good thing, including romance, is meaningless. Thus, many viewers, especially those to whom Jim Carrey and/or Kate Winslet are acquired tastes, may find themselves not caring what happens to the two main characters. This may be especially true because the script seems to make the two romantic lead characters as unappealing as possible.
Some people may be inspired by this movie’s complex weaving together of memory and time. To be honest, there are a few funny scenes where the protagonist steps outside his mind and talks to the other characters about himself as they appear to talk to another version of the protagonist. Even so, too many of the scenes mixing together the protagonist’s memories go on much too long and lead nowhere.
ETERNAL SUNSHINE also contains lots of strong foul language and some adult sexual themes, although it does not constantly wallow in sexual perversion as parts of Kaufman’s other famous movies, BEING JOHN MALKOVICH and ADAPTATION, tend to do. While not exactly a nightmare of secular moviemaking, ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND is one movie dream we wish we could forget.