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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 Susan Granger
3½ stars out of 4

This seductively spellbinding - if loony - love story, by screenwriter Charlie Kaufman and French director Michel Gondry defines the difference between movies and creative cinema. It's an exciting, sophisticated art form, not easily accessible but ultimately emotionally rewarding.

Jim Carrey stars as Joel, a muddled New York commuter who - on a wintry Valentine's Day - impulsively takes a train in the opposite direction. Wandering Montauk's desolate beach at the tip of Long Island, he spots Clementine - that's Kate Winslet. The attraction is mutual; a sweet romance develops. Soon they're making snow angels on the frozen Charles River in Boston.

Then the timeline goes awry. It's three days before Valentine's Day. Apparently, Joel already knows Clementine but she's visited a company called Lacuna and had him eradicated from her memory. Distraught, he makes an appointment to have his memory of loving her erased. Cautiously asking the doctor (Tom Wilkinson) about the inherent danger, he's told, "Technically speaking, the procedure is brain damage." But the technicians (Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood) are ready, enmeshed with receptionist (Kirsten Dunst) in their own subplot. Yet, as his brain goes into rewind, Joel discovers that some memories, positive and negative, may be worth keeping.

Cast-against-type, Carrey and Winslet deliver poignant performances. Gondry's striking visual ingenuity, implemented by cinematographer Ellen Kuras, is superbly suited to Kaufman's cleverly intricate and ambiguous narrative on relationships. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" is a strange, surreal, intriguing 9. While the title phrase comes from Alexander Pope's poem "Eloisa to Abelard," it's a terrific mind-trip!

Copyright 2004 Susan Granger

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