Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
2004
After learning that his ex-girlfriend had an experimental medical procedure to purge all memories of him, a man decides to do the same with her. But during the operation, he realizes he doesn't want to lose what's left of their relationship.

Scott Hardie: “It ruled.”

Funny this should be considered a Charlie Kaufman movie. Kaufman wrote it and it thrives on his characteristic neuroses, but the idea originated with Michel Gondry (via a friend) and the film was created to indulge Gondry's particular talents, not Kaufman's. In truth it's a collaboration between a lot of people, not the least of them Jim Carrey, but as a fan of Gondry I must maintain the truth, that this is his film above all.

I say that because the heart of the film is in its visually creative suggestions of a mind doubling back on itself. Without giving away the story, I can say that much of the film takes place inside an unstable mind, and so the film loops through old memories, makes people and objects disappear as they are forgotten, and goes out of its way to establish a completely convincing dream-state. (It's a shame that the conscious scenes aren't filmed more sharply to differentiate them. The film seems like it's setting us up for a trick in which it reveals a waking scene to be a dream, but it's not.) Gondry is a gifted creator of optical illusions, as evidenced by his delightful short works, and here he creates beaches inside houses, city blocks with only one end, a man the size of a child, and other wonderful tricks of the eye.

But the film is not content to rest on its visual inventions; it goes to great lengths to develop its multidimensional protagonist, and even its supporting characters, who have little dialogue, come across as well-drawn. Here the credit goes to Kaufman and the ensemble cast, but I want to single out Carrey for special mention. Here he creates a character who is, I suspect, very close to his real self. He has indicated that he is actually a quiet, shy person who likes to keep to himself, and forces himself to be extroverted in his career because it makes him a better person -- much like the quiet, shy protagonist must force himself to extroverted around his garrulous girlfriend. Carrey is convincing as this meek soul while still being "Jim Carrey!" in some scenes; that he can marry the two into one believable character is a credit to his self-actualization as an actor. I hope he has the future ahead of him that he deserves.

Though "Eternal Sunshine" might bore a few viewers (those who don't enjoy introspective, dialogue-driven films like "Lost in Translation"), most audiences should enjoy its general playfulness and good humor, and be touched by its bittersweet undertones. It is a thoroughly satisfying film.

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