ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  michel gondry

RATED  -  r

GENRE  -  suspense

LENGTH  -  108 minutes

RELEASED  -  19 march 2004

DISTRIBUTOR  -  focus features

OFFICIAL SITE  -  eternal sunshine

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $35,000,000
eternal sunshine of the spotless mind - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from eternal sunshine of the spotless mind at

buy the dvd from eternal sunshine of the spotless mind at

a couple undergo a procedure to erase each other from their memories when their relationship turns sour, but it is only through the process of loss that they discover what they had to begin with.

before jim carrey expressed interest in playing joel, nicolas cage was considered for the role.


picture from eternal sunshine of the spotless mind

picture from eternal sunshine of the spotless mind

picture from eternal sunshine of the spotless mind

picture from eternal sunshine of the spotless mind


four out of four possible stars

A wonderfully surprising experience on every level, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a film blanketed in intense creativity and a welcome originality missing far too often from contemporary film. Certainly not a strange experience that might put off some more traditionally minded viewers, this movie is instead a breath of fresh air in a year of copy-cat blockbusters and "sequelitis." The reason this film will trigger the interest of nearly any viewer is because of hearty emphasis screenwriter Charlie Kaufman places on the basic emotional core of the film's characters.

The movie is certainly off-the-beaten path as far as commercial films are concerned, but in a familiar way, it still retains the basic character developments and changes one needs of the characters in a drama or comedy. In simple terms, the film is about a man and woman who don't realize the value of their relationship until it no longer exists. The old adage, "you don't know what you've got until it's gone," sums up this movie's theme perfectly and it's an idea that's been presented in countless films before. And it's a theme that works time and time again as well.

But this film ventures beyond the expected success of such a familiar plot and definitely places the film's characters in the realm of bizarre. But that alternate reality is presented in such a way that the format itself doesn’t overshadow the characters. Unlike the similarly presented film, Memento, this film's characters, though usually devious and occasionally beyond weird, are such that the audience shouldn't have a problem finding an emotional foothold with their plight. It would be less than this film's cast deserves to label the characters merely, "likeable," as that description doesn't always add up to an interesting film.

The characters in Eternal Sunshine do have the ability to annoy the audience, but for some mysterious reason, the audience should have no difficulties in keeping faith with the characters' exploits. Perhaps this is the magic of director Michel Gondry's treatment of Kaufman's script, or maybe it's the variety of striking performances courtesy of virtually the entire cast. More than likely it is a combination of both the performances and the dialogue, as the film can boast success regarding its treatment of an off-the-wall plot that that so easily resonates with any audience member.

It is on the shoulders of a filmmaker to be, in the traditional sense of the word, an entertainer, though some would argue that simply informing or teaching an audience without the added benefit of entertainment is as worthy a venture. Eternal Sunshine is something of an anomaly though, because on its surface, it looks like many other independent films whose appeal is limited to a very thin demographic. But upon closer inspection, the movie is as entertaining (and usually more so) than its giant-budget counterparts. Did the filmmakers set out to create a film with the special ability to entertain just about anybody?

Or did they set out to create a risk-taking film that just happened to turn into a great piece of cinema? In a cash conscious society, a film's true success cannot be measured in terms of a healthy box office or critical acclaim. For a real victory a film must do both and Eternal Sunshine seems to be able to accomplish just that. A great portion of the film's appeal rests not on the shoulders of the writer and director though, but on their casting choices. Constantly struggling between his successful persona as comic genius and the rigors of dramatic roles, Jim Carrey is a tireless actor who bridges the gap between the funny and the dramatic with ease in his performance as "Joel Barish."

As a man who undergoes a risky procedure to erase all the memories connected with his girlfriend, "Clementine," Carrey is both neurotic and hilarious in the role and it's a mystery why this film was released in the awards-dead vicinity of late Spring, instead of during the more appropriate late fall. Is Eternal Sunshine to be another case of the awards-givers ignoring what is such an impressive talent? And although she has not been as ignored as egregiously as Carrey, in terms of accolades, co-star Kate Winslet is as equally an agitated personality as is Carrey in her role as Clementine.

Sporting a variety of insane hairstyles and hair colors, she is an appropriate discordant lover in the relationship, benefiting greatly from Kaufman's absolutely ludicrous dialogue. Also performing with excellence is Tom Wilkinson, who plays the doctor responsible for erasing the memories of his patients' lovers. And in a wonderful addition to his sans-Hobbit curriculum vitae, Elijah Wood makes an impressive case for convincing the audience he doesn't need to wear pointed ears to grip the audience with his performance. Also in smaller roles, Kirsten Dunst and Mark Ruffalo cause welcome commotion with their performances, courtesy of the insanity that runs rampant in Charlie Kaufman's brain.

Eternal Sunshine is much more than an obscure independent film and it brings to the table so much more creativity than a bland, high-budget romantic comedy that it borders on the ridiculous. It's like the film is compensating for all the lack of entertainment regarding its genre that audiences have been exposed to in the past few years. Hilarious and touching, engaging and beautiful, this movie is so entertaining it puts its filmmakers and actors at the top of the heap for this genre. Presented in a wholly unique way, the appealing story is accessible by any demographic and is far too entertaining to pass up.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

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