“Come on!” she urges him, “you'll love it!” She takes his hand and guides him over the ice lake. She decides to lie on it and starts flapping her arms and legs. She invites him to do the same while lying next to her. He hesitates, afraid that the ice might not hold both of them. “It won't crack, I promise”, she assures him. Finally, he agrees and lies next to her. Their hands interlock as they gaze upon the sky and it's endless stars. “I could die right now, Clem”, he confesses, “I'm so happy”. A sweet and beautiful moment that announces the beginning of an unconventional but sincere love story that is one of cinema's landmarks.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a science fiction romance that is directed by Michel Gondry. It is written and conceived by the strange and unique mind of Charlie Kaufman. The story is about the unusual love story between Joel (Jim Carrey) and Clementine (Kate Winslet) as they both go through a medical procedure to erase each other from their memories. But, as this happens, they realize how special their relationship is.
A chief element of this film that has made it an instant classic is the acting on display. Jim Carrey gives his best dramatic performance to date as the quiet, solitary, shy and polite Joel Barish. Joel is a character who has found it hard to be in love and Carrey plays him with such tenderness and believability that one did not know he possessed. His performance allows us to easily care for Joel and his problems. Truly superb acting.
However, Carrey is not the only one who gives an excellent performance. Kate Winslet, playing the neurotic, anxious, and impulsive Clementine Kruczynski, is simply outstanding. With the change in hair color and the bewildered looks she gives Joel, Winslet is able to project all of Clementine's insecurities and doubts. She does so in a loving and quirky way that results in a character we do not soon forget but instead grow attached to. This is one of my favorite Winslet roles and ranks amongst the best female characters I have ever witnessed on film.
It is also the film's unusual and odd story that elevates it to being an extraordinary and impressive picture. Being a romance with a large dose of science fiction elements, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind does a great job in providing seamless suspension of belief. We experience Joel and Clementine's relationship along with them. The aforementioned structure of the story is not the usual one. It bounces back and forth during all stages of their relationship and might seem confusing at first. However, upon a repeat viewing or two, one comes to truly appreciate the wonderful story and how Kaufman has managed, in his own special way, to create a romance film unlike any other in its genre. A great achievement.
The distinct selection of music is another layer of the film that enhances the film further. The bulk of the musical score is composed by musician Jon Brion and is used to great effect. It is an offbeat and peculiar soundtrack that plays well in the film, especially during the odd scenes. The music here is yet another excellent example of how, when chosen correctly, it is able to gel perfectly with the scenes and never seem out of place. A job well done.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is undoubtedly one of my all-time favorite romance films. It does have science fiction elements but those only contribute to the film and make it more special. Ultimately, it is the natural chemistry between Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet that makes this film work. They just “click” throughout the film and are so natural and true that they give the feeling that one is witnessing an authentic relationship. It ends in such a nice way that makes the entire journey with these two characters well worth the while. In my opinion, this picture is Kaufman's masterpiece that will be very hard for him to better.
- Jim Carrey (as Joel Barish)
- Kate Winslet (as Clementine Kruczynski)
1 hour and 48 minutes
Drama / Romance / Sci-Fi