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Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Is it truly better to have loved and lost, then to have never loved at all?
This is definitely one of the deepest films ever made. "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" poses a unique question on whether it's good or bad that we forget our pasts. I mean it's often said that our pasts define who we are, yet I'm sure many of us have memories that are too painful to remember. Whether it's a loss of a loved one or a failed relationship, we've all been through that at some point in our lives. As usual Kaufman is able to create a truly spectacular film about the human mind and how our relationships tend to shape our lives whether we want to remember them or not. Featuring an all star cast of Jim Carrey (Joel Barish), Kate Winslet (Clementine Kruczynski), Kirsten Dunst (Mary) and Elijah Wood (Patrick). The film is about a young man, Joel Barish, whom falls in love with a girl named Clementine after he has been going through relationship problems with his fiance. From here, it seems like the old philosophy of "opposites attract" seems to ring true for this couple until the romance fades away. Joel is a typical "every man" who doesn't like to take a lot of risks and is fairly conservative. As for Clementine, she's a free spirited sassy young lady who has a thirst for life. In a sequence of events, Clementine and Joel both grow tired of each other leading to them breaking up. However, the break up caused both of them to be in a lot of emotional anguish. Upon hearing about a new scientific discovery that helps people forget about un-wanted memories, both Joel and Clementine soon volunteer for the procedure. It is from here, the audience is able to see how this procedure has impacted their lives. As Joel and Clementine meet for the first time after the operation, they seem almost familiar with each other; even though they don't remember being together. As for Patrick, he tries to use Joel's memories to seduce Clementine, but she rejects him as something about his act almost reminisces her old memories. However, the movie's strongest attribute is in how it makes us realize how important memories are. During the procedure as Joel sees his memories getting erased as he sleeps, he starts to see some of the good times he's had with Clementine. Thus, making him realize that he doesn't want to forget her despite his heartache. It's from here, he takes Clementine throughout his entire memories from his child hood to other ackward memories, like pleasuring himself in bed, to avoid having her erased forever from his life. Unfortunately, Joel soon realizes that the memories of what he had with Clementine difined who he was, and it caused a great void in both their lives that neither could gain back once those memories were gone. Kaufman did a fabulous job creating realistic characters, that we can all relate to, while allowing the character development to make the viewer feel more sympathetic as they learn more about these characters. The film not only had an all star cast, but it had a top-notch performances to go with it. Elijah Wood was great in his role as Patrick. Even though he was trying to steal Joel's girl, the viewer can't help but feel sorry for the guy. As he plays guy who never knows how to be around women, so he uses Joel's memories to seduce Clementine in hopes of winning her heart. For those who still think that Jim Carrey isn't that great at dramas after seeing films like "Man on the Moon" and "Truman Show", then this one should put those critics to rest as Jim not only plays the part to perfection, but he also manages to bring a certain sadness that the audience is able to feel as he portrays Joel. Indeed, "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" is perhaps one of the greatest philosophical films ever created.
The performances in this film were just breath taking. As Elijah Wood, Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet and Kirsten Dunst truly shined in their respective roles. Kate and Jim had great chemistry together, as it almost seemed like they were lovers. Playing off each other beautifully to create a modern masterpiece. The conviction in Jim's performance was very similar to Tom Hanks' role in "Cast Away" as you can't help but feel sorry for the character after he had gone through such a traumatic experience. As for Kate, her free spirited performance, was just captivating as you can't take your eyes off of her. In the scene where Joel and Clementine find out about their past, the audience is able to feel for the characters as both Jim and Kate portray a raw emotional energy that allows the viewer to relate to them.
Even Kirsten Dunst, who had a small role in the film, seemed like she could've been easily nominated for an Academy Award, for "Best Supporting Actress." As she plays a nurse whom discovers that her memories were erased after she broke up with Dr. Howard Mierzwiak (Tom Wilkinson). When she finds out about this, she soon realizes how much of a mistake it was, so she tries to help everyone else realize what they have lost from this procedure. As the viewer is able to see the confliction in her eyes, you can't help but feel for her character as she feels betrayed by Dr. Mierzwiak because he knew about their past and didn't tell her.
However, where would this film be without the creative genuise of Charlie Kaufman. Indeed, in an era where original film ideas are rare, Kaufman manages to prove that they're still some visionaries in Hollywood. Sure, it would be easy for him to go with the typical cliches that America is used to, but instead he manages to still surprise us with his creativity. Who else would come up with the ideas of what it would be like to be inside someone else's head? Or what if we could erase our painful memories? And how would it affect us? Kaufman's films may not make a lot of money because of his unique style, but it's America's loss. I mean here we celebrate mediocre films like "Chicken Little" and "See Spot Run" to name a few, but it shouldn't be that way. Nothing against those films as I'm not trying to put them down, but they tend to play it safe towards the cliches that America expects. Where as, "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" boldly tries to entertain us using a philosophical question that many of us wouldn't have come up with.
"Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" is a truly captivating film about love and loss. Kaufman's creative genuise is brought to life with great acting performances. A true modern classic.