Fred’s No Clue Movie Review

“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”
Directed by Michel Gondry


Take a trip inside the mind of Joel Barrish.  Enter the world created by the crazy Charlie Kaufman.  Either way, get ready for a head rush of a movie that achieves near greatness in my opinion.  It is well thought out, highly entertaining and completely original.  Starring Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Mark Ruffalo, Kirsten Dunst, Elijah Wood and Tom Wilkinson this film defies all conventions, but at its core, it's an engaging romantic comedy about destiny and true love.

The set up is this.  There's a company called Lacuna that can wipe out any memory that you wish to forget.  Wipe the slate clean, making you believe that those painful experiences never ever happened.  Joel wishes to forget Clementine after he finds out that she erased him.  He is asked to bring any artifacts that would make him remember her to the doctor's office prior to this brain damage deletion.  They then make a map of his brain and the affected memories.  A technician will then come to Joel's house that night and when he wakes up after a long sleep, he will have forgotten that Clementine ever existed.  Are you with me?  What follows is a trippy invasion inside Joel's mind that makes him relive his experiences with Clementine and second-guess the whole thing.  Maybe he doesn't want to forget the pain, because with it, he has to forget all the good things that he so loved about her.  It's a movie that kind of asks the question, is it better to have loved and lost or never loved at all?  

Jim Carrey is fantastic as Barrish.  A bumbling, self-doubter who is taken on the ride of his life by the life force that is Clementine, played beautifully by Kate Winslet.  Carrey is normally at his best when he's playing the silly crazy man with the rubber face.  Here he uses his comic chops to round out the character of Joel.  Injecting just enough crazy into his performance but all the while keeping it from going too far over the top.  He uses his great physical comedy skills very effectively in this role and has some of the most fantastic facial expressions I've ever seen him have without being out and out silly.  Winslet, is sexy, provocative and vulnerable as the wise cracking Clementine.  She is the embodiment of a free spirit who really wants to just settle down at this moment in her life.  The two play wonderfully off of each other and who knew that Winslet had such comic timing.  Elijah Wood is hilarious as a young technician who takes advantage of the fact that he helped erase Joel from Clementine's mind.  He's a smarmy guy who plays up all the angles, but still manages to be lovable.  It's a big departure from the hobbit Frodo that he's played for the past few years.  The cast is really really good.  They are continually asked to bring you into this crazy world and we find it all so believable.  

The film is a stylistic marvel.  It fluidly mixes so many different time periods, settings, and stories without making you aware of the special effects at work.  It's a story that takes place mostly in this dream like state since you're inside of Barrish's mind for most of the film.  I love films like this where your imagination as a viewer runs wild, while continually being restimulated by the unpredictable images that you’re seeing on the screen.  In fact, as Joel's mind runs wild, so does yours.  You know the director had to have this well thought out and choreographed, yet it feels like they're making it up as they go along.  The editing in this film is fantastic.  The story is all over the place but the film never feels like it's drifting off course or slowing down.  Shots blend so seamlessly that you can't tell what's coming next.  

Gondry is a veteran of avant-garde music videos.  He's directed videos for Bjork and the
White Stripes among others.  His use of music in this film is so great.  Many times he's creating little music video montages for us set to just the perfect music for this film.  It feels familiar yet fresh.  He takes many risks yet each one manages to pay off.  He doesn't tug at your heartstrings, but makes you feel.  These characters are relatable and make you hold a mirror up to your own life while watching their experiences.  Every character is flawed, but all seem to have a set purpose that doesn't drift.  Each and every one of them seems to evolve from beginning to end in some fashion.  Gondry receives outlandish, but not corny performances from each one of his actors.  He strikes a good balance between the crazy and the grounded.  

This movie is a bright little ray of sunshine at your local multiplex.  An independent movie with hope, love and compassion that doesn't get too sappy.  It's got outstanding production values and it's never predictable. A fine cast that helps transport you into this very surreal place and makes you feel welcome.  Invade the theater closest to you and seek out Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.  You'll never want to erase the experience.

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