ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Sunshine is hard to forget
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Starring: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet
Directed by: Michel Gondry
By Claire Neary
Gazette file photo
SUNSHINE? MORE LIKE ETERNAL CRAP. Nobody likes winter, especially when
they’re supposed to be living in the land of Eternal Sunshine.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a film you’ll either love or
hate. Or, it will leave you so weirded-out you won’t be able to decide
which side you’re on.
Eternal Sunshine is a post-modern, quasi-romantic comedy that’s not
really romantic or funny. The film, which takes its name from an Alexander
Pope poem, follows Joel Barish (Carrey) as he tries to erase and subsequently
regain his memories of his eccentric, impulsive ex-girlfriend, Clementine Kruczynski
At first, the concept is simple. It’s almost Valentine’s Day,
so Joel innocently goes to visit his girlfriend, Clementine, at work, in an
attempt to patch things up after a fight. Instead of accepting his peace offering,
Clementine acts as if she’s never seen him before. He discovers she has
managed to completely eradicate all memories of Joel from her mind.
Hurt and confused, Joel concludes that his only option to get his life back
on track is to undergo the procedure as well. After a brief consultation with
Dr. Mierzwiak (Tom Wilkinson), Joel undergoes the procedure, which leaves him
comatose in bed. The rest of the film takes place inside his vividly fading
memories, revealing the fascinating and dysfunctional relationship with Clementine.
Joel’s erratic memories alternate between strikingly beautiful moments
and horrible verbal fights, in which he must tiptoe around Clementine’s
neediness and hot temper. Unfortunately, he cannot choose which memories to
keep and which to erase. The film becomes a slow montage of mismatched memories
that are sometimes hard to follow.
Unexpectedly, Carrey plays the boring, underdeveloped Joel exceedingly well.
You won’t be left feeling Carrey is trying to suppress the urge to make
a funny face or start making fart jokes. He is convincing as a shy introvert,
and lets Winslet take over the role of the kooky, impulsive wise-cracker.
Winslet, just as surprisingly, steps out of her usual Shakespearean corset
and into the role of Clementine as if it was written for her. Easily concealing
her British accent, she plays Clementine as a self-described “vindictive
little bitch,” brilliantly walking the thin line between being spontaneous
and annoyingly needy.
Together, Carrey and Winslet possess an unexpected chemistry, which holds
together their relationship — and the entire movie — amidst a mass
of confusion and dysfunction.
They are supported by an equally well-cast team, including Kirsten Dunst,
who spends the majority of the movie dancing in her underwear stoned, until
she steps up to become the unexpected voice of moral reason.
Elijah Wood and Mike Ruffalo are the geeky, irresponsible team who botch Joel’s
Unfortunately, not even the beautiful cinematography or the strong acting
can save Eternal Sunshine from the monotony of the middle of the film. As we
jump from memory to random memory, including a strangely comical sequence in
which Carrey depicts himself as a four-year-old child hiding under the table,
the viewer is left wondering where these random events are leading, if anywhere.
Luckily, a touching and satisfying ending comes as close as possible to saving