Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Review
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: A heartbroken man attempts to erase his ex-girlfriend's existence from his memories but falls back in love with her in the process.
Review: I remember a lot of people in college telling me I'd appreciate this, but it looked pretentious and I loathe Kirsten Dunst's acting. Well, they were right, I really liked this! The visuals are simply amazing with countless, impressive shots and concepts. The psychedelic presentation of the memories works wonders but doesn't leave you feeling as though you're coming off an LSD trip. Also, contrary to my original belief that the material would be pretentious, the story is, in fact, pretty straightforward. The sci-fi elements do outshine the romance aspects, however, those who want a love story will still get that and those that want an introspective look at memories and loss will have that as well. Hell, I'd go a step further and say that the film would have been better had it went full sci-fi and took on a darker, serious tone. Can't have everything I suppose.
It's hard to properly word what's so great about this film due to the importance of the cinematography. The bizarre nature of the images is, of course, dream-like, yet it's presented in a unique way that showcases a blending of memories. Meaning, rather than just random shit happening similarly to a dream, there is a specific method to the madness, and we discover this meaning as the film progresses. Connected to this notion is the way in which the love story unfolds with all the film's events coming full circle by the ending; this is something I always love to see...and done well to boot! While the romance itself isn't exactly beyond time and space love, it does--sort of--depict a level of destiny and depth toward the story's conclusion. Assisting in this process were great performances from the leads, Joel and Clementine, played by Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet respectively. The chemistry between the two is surprisingly strong despite the, nearly, dysfunctional approach to their relationship. I've always believed Mr. Carrey was better in serious roles than comedy, but the guy can't seem to escape it.
Taking things a tad deeper (why do I always set myself up with this innuendo?), the themes of the film are considerably powerful. The display of loss and love is realistic, and I especially liked the focus on how people fixate on the bad things that happen in a relationship and ignore the majority of the good. When Joel is heard on the recording listing all the things he hated about Clementine, that serves as a great complement to the previous events of him remembering all the good times so fondly. Again, it's hard to adequately describe, but there is an attention to detail that resonates with me. The secondary cast, and their plot line, was somewhat distracting, but I was still intrigued by their drama nonetheless. Of note is Mark Ruffalo's character who is such a little bitch boy. Guys, don't be like this pussy weakling! And, oh boy, Elijah Wood's character is just as pathetic. Dafuq is this shit?! Anyway, the other thing that works is that the ending is both a happy one, and one you can imagine reaching it's inescapable conclusion if you're a realist like me. In other words, if you want to believe Joel and Clementine get a second chance to do their relationship over, then you can imagine it all works out and the film would support that conclusion. However, if you've analyzed the events, saw how incompatible the two actually are, then you can believe they will inevitably break up again at some point since Clementine is clearly neurotic. Here is a tip boys: never date a chick with an unnatural hair color. NEVER.
Now, while there is far more to love than not, there are some bothersome faults. Many of the comedic parts break the immersion due to the overwhelming levels of corniness. For example, Joel imagining himself as a little kid dragged on far too long. The film does include subtlety with other comedic moments yet there was still this need to include full comedy scenes for whatever reason. I'm mostly annoyed that it disrupts the tone that is painstakingly established. Speaking of which, this is where my complaint with the secondary characters comes into play; they take away from the primary tale more than they add. Seriously, everything with Kirsten Dunst could have been cut altogether. Another thing that bugged me was how Joel and Clementine got back together. Was it some kind of twist of fate? Joel's own memories tell him to go somewhere and Clementine also happens to be there too...at that exact same moment? I don't know, maybe I missed something about how he knew Clementine would be there and needed to merely remember that fact after the memory wipe. Anybody have an answer? Finally, it was farfetched that technology like this would merely fly under the radar. The military would definitely be using it as a weapon plus this could be abused readily if in the wrong hands. This could have been quickly resolved by the filmmakers if they acknowledged the practice was commonplace in this universe. Oh well.
Overall, this is an incredible film all around. It's not...quite...the masterpiece people make it out to be, but it's damn close. From a visual perspective, it rivals any big-budget spectacle with it's imaginative presentation of memories. The actors turn in admirable performances and play off each other believably. The love story isn't exactly going to blow your mind, but it's also leagues beyond the emotional depth you'd find in your typical chick flick. There are some plot tangents that could have been cleaned up and some of the pacing tightened, but the flaws are overshadowed by creative ideas, a compelling story, and brilliant cinematography. I'd definitely check this one out for a date movie or just an interesting watch for any filmgoer.
Notable Moment: During the scene when it's raining indoors. If it wouldn't destroy all my shit, I'd love for this to be a possible reality!
Final Rating: 8/10