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Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Starring: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet
Director: Michel Gondry
Rated: R
RunTime: 108 Minutes
Release Date: March 2004
Genres: Comedy, Romance

*Also starring: Kirsten Dunst, Tom Wilkinson, Elijah Wood, Mark Ruffalo, David Cross, Lauren Adler, Josh Flitter, Dylan Gallagher, Ellen Pompeo

Review by Steve Rhodes
2½ stars out of 4

Great concept but mediocre movie, ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND is by writer Charlie Kaufman, who has certainly had his hits (BEING JOHN MALKOVICH and ADAPTATION) and his misses (CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND and HUMAN NATURE). About a race against the erasers by Joel Barish, a guy who wanted to forget his girlfriend, Clementine Kruczynski (Kate Winslet), it has the feel of a science fiction short story stretched too far in order to expand it into a full length motion picture.

In his first serious part since his widely derided, box office bomb THE MAJESTIC, Jim Carrey plays Joel, who is as depressed and reserved as Clementine is gregarious and spontaneous. The story's central conceit is that Dr. Howard Mierzwiak (Tom Wilkinson) has figured out a way to selectively obliterate any person from someone's memory.

After Clementine wipes all memory of Joel from her consciousness, Joel decides to the do the same in return. But, as the operation is taking place -- performed by technicians Stan (Mark Ruffalo) and Patrick (Elijah Wood) with Mary (Kirsten Dunst) there to seduce and distract Stan -- Joel decides to try to stop the process by resisting. Most of the movie takes places in a fantasy world as Joel, with Clementine's encouragement and suggestions, tries to disappear into places in his brain where the technicians may have trouble finding him.

The movie has a lot on its mind but most scenes never gel. The dialog is snappy. When Clementine, who changes her hair color more than most people change their sox, first invites Joel up to her place, she tells him, "Drink up young man. It'll make the whole seduction part less repugnant." Later in the story, after he has grown tired of his motormouth girlfriend, he tells her, "Constantly talking isn't necessarily communicating." Although mainly a drama, there is some very dry humor in it that will probably elicit some smiles even if little laughter. It's an imaginative story, but the movie never comes together. We are always intrigued by what will happen next, yet we never care about the characters. Your mostly likely reaction will be to look at your watch and wonder why this bizarre little tale is taking so long to say so little.

ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND runs 1:50. It is rated R for "language, some drug and sexual content" and would be acceptable for teenagers.

Copyright 2004 Steve Rhodes

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