Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind Reviews
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd..."
What a beautiful name, as suggested by one of the quotes spewed out by Mary (Kirsten Dunst) while Howard (Tom Wilkinson) attempts to correct a highly unusual brain function of Joel Barish (Jim Carrey), who is resisting his memory erasure of Clementine (Kate Winslet). That there could be a place in the mind, in existence itself - whatever web that looks like - which shines without end, no matter what forces try to expel it. It's elasticity compounds it's form always, it will find a way. Or it burns so bright there is no cooling it - we see winter, freezing sea water, an icy river, but this passionate feeling burns so hot that even with the highest technology, a clue is left to beat the system at it's game. This sunshine truly believes it's in love, and it wants to live with the memory, it wants the ghosts to thrive, not merely have it caught, trapped, and buried away in some unknown recess.
What an interesting journey for a character, an adventure through the mind, fighting circumstances the protagonist himself created. He put his antagonists there, and now he's simply changed his mind. Meanwhile, he can also hear voices of the men working on him, Stan (Mark Ruffalo) and Patrick (Elijah Wood), giving him the needed clairvoyance to unravel a conspiracy from an unethically behaved Patrick, who takes advantages of these memory erasures to jump in and take Joel's girl, manipulating her with sensitive emotional points he learns from Joel's memory stash. That's such a brilliant, unique conflict setup; it's merciless, capitalizing on Joel and Clementine's inertness. And we love to see his measly plan turn on him - it only works for so long before she feels everything is off. This is not true love, these things are inherent elsewhere. Even if Joel and Clementine never have a memory of these things being used as Patrick's tricks, they will always have the imprint left on their souls, that eternal sunshine.
There's some confusion as to how many times over this has all happened - an exact number would be unsatisfying. It hints that this has happened several times at the end by showing them running away together in several loops - I personally would've used various takes, running from the same point but doing different actions - missed opportunity.
Grainy film stock for reality (probably Tri-X) vs brighter, cleaner, surrealist quality for dreams.
It's one of those string tugging, lump in my throat experiences, but it's pulling at the deepest level, far from cheap. Memory erasure is an evocative idea, especially when it conflicts with love. On a lesser level, but still to some degree, I had the same reaction to Moira McTaggert regaining her loving memory of Professor X in X-Men Apocalypse.
Spotlight highlights brain-centralizing points of memory strength while other areas fade to darkness.
Optical illusion of mirror frame as Joel runs to one side of the street and it morphs into the other side. He can see the other side from a distance, Clementine walking away from him angrily, but as he approaches it turns to the side he was on.
The idea that two lovers have a whole history and no memory of it is a bit tormenting, but then a spiritualist can relate this to some past life soulmate who they feel connected to, but no concrete memory of goings on with one another. When we say past life in Buddhism, often we mean a past part of ourselves from this very lifetime, thus there is a spirituality to them being soulmates, that they find each other at least a couple of times, if not more. The screenplay suggests it happens endlessly, thus the 'eternity' of 'Eternal Sunshine.'
The effect of the distorted faces is eerie.
Staging - Joel walking out of bookstore to his friends house. The way the lights shut down as he marches along each successive row until total darkness.
Classic tricks - Clementine disappears from bathroom to diagonal room as Joel marches towards her, appears in one take.
Set design - bookstore is brilliant, appears so natural that it seems on location, but with all the effects work done inside it had to have been designed. Some subtleties, like book titles disappearing.