A movie written by Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich; Adaptation), directed by Michel Gondry (Be Kind, Rewind; The Science of Sleep), and starring Jim Carrey (you need credits for Jim
A movie written by Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich; Adaptation), directed by Michel Gondry (Be Kind, Rewind; The Science of Sleep), and starring Jim Carrey (you need credits for Jim Carrey?) was always going to be … disorienting. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind presents the heartbreak at the center of a failed relationship as simultaneously a surreal, supernatural nexus of force and the desire to leave the pain behind as concrete, a purchasable service. It skips through time; it plays with the ideas of memory and reality with a fluidity that never quite lets you forget you’re watching a movie (or at least dreaming). If this is your first viewing, best policy might simply be to go along with the ride. You’ll have plenty of time to try to figure it out later.
But it’s not just disorienting in structure and in content, it’s also disorienting in intention. The memory-erasing process at the center of the movie never quite stands up to total resolution – does it work? To what end? Carrey’s character resists the process – does that matter? Kate Winslet’s character seems content to let things go – was that the right idea? Director Gondry specifically makes the most Kaufmanesque move possible by putting a very funny actor in a very funny situation (structurally the movie has a lot in common with The Truman Show or Liar, Liar, actually), but then refuses to let Carrey treat it with anything but total seriousness. It’s a poignant journey through a story you already know the ending to. REWIND will be here for you when it all falls apart.
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