Film Review: Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind

As a movie fan I have always been slightly torn by my feelings towards Jim Carrey. While I adore his performance in The Grinch, and grew up on his role in Me, Myself & Irene, whenever I hear his name I naturally withdraw from whatever it is being associated with because I just find his brand of comedy too immature and forced and slapstick. I just don’t enjoy his silliness. His idea of what is funny.

And I think that reservation towards the tone Carrey could potentially create is why I’ve never felt a longing to watch Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind. Why I’ve always taken a conscious step away from it. I watch the trailer and I see a strange plot, lead by an actor that leaves me anxious, in a film directed by Michel Gondry, who I’ve never heard of and seemingly has never gone on to anything of real note. It’s judging a book by its cover I know, but it sets alarm bells ringing before it’s even begun.

Cast - Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind

But then, while simply searching for the best free films available on Amazon Instant Video, there it was, ranking highly, seriously recommended, and delving further, it’s supporting cast: Kate Winslet, Mark Ruffalo, Kirsten Dunst, Elijah Wood combined would hint that there is more to it that it’s trailer simply suggests. That no matter what mood Carrey’s in there is enough of a foundation, something hidden underneath, that whatever reservations I have things can’t be as bad as predicted?

Watching the film though, the first that I noticed was that Carrey seems confused by his role, and by the film as a whole. I just felt he didn’t know what tone to be taking. How serious he needed to play it. I just didn’t buy into him as a character because he felt constantly on edge, trying to be serious but desperate to burst out laughing. He felt tied and tethered and unhappy. Almost constantly on edge, wound up and desperate to explode. And it left me feeling completely uneasy towards him because you sense his dissatisfaction in his character.

The supporting cast around him work better, you can feel that because there isn’t the pressure on them as much as Carrey that they can relax more. You feel as though they are their characters. They may not be overly pushed by their roles but you feel like they are who they say they are. Winslet felt right as the dizzy, spontaneous free spirit. Ruffalo manages the office joker and geek perfectly, while both Dunst and Wood aren’t handed much to do, but feel right as the young spare parts they need to be.

Jim Carrey & Kate Winslet - Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind

While the supporting cast works, when you add Carrey back into the mix everything instantly falls apart. Especially when you team him against Winslet. However much I didn’t buy Carrey individually, I fail ever harder to buy them combined as a couple. They just look wrong. There was something in their eyes that felt unconnected. Carrey seemingly far older and starched than Winslet. They lack any passion together, there is no love, together they just look amateur, like too actors simply playing parts. Holding hands purely because the script told them to.

It doesn’t help as well that the plot is beyond foolish. Not only is it completely implausible and simply impossible, it doesn’t actually make any sense. You can really sense that this is a film that was born from a single idea idea, a pondering question: “What if you could erase memories…?” but it pads this out into a film in a way that is too artificial and simplistic. Nothing is ever explained and you never understand any motive. And it changes tone throughout. One moment it feels romantically serious, the next naive and immature. It’s a miss-mash of styles in which things just happen because they happen and it makes up what it needs as it goes along. Honestly, the deeper the story goes into it’s cerebral destructions the more twisted, bizarre and seemingly independent the relationship seems to become. It truly loses all sense of reality and as a result, all connection to you the longer it goes on.

Bathing In The Sink - Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind

And yet this somehow is also completely enchanting. You feel nothing towards the characters, I never once empathised with them, I never once felt anything for them or the situations they found themselves in. Pick an emotion from the screen and you will never be made to feel it. You just watch this story two steps removed. But I still loved it and I don’t, really, know why. In terms of a big picture, nothing works, but it never bored me, it never had me wishing it was over or looking at my watch. The characters that fail to gel in a story that doesn’t real feel and yet it won me over. It’s almost as though there are so many opposites attracting that it becomes a charming mess. It’s not a good film, but I would happily watch it again. It’s not funny, it’s lacking any depth from both plot and character, and yet all these problems somehow add together to solve the bigger equation. To make a watchable film.

It’s an interesting trick to pull off and quite how it managed it I do not know! But I hate it while totally loving it.

8 out of 10 stars (8 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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