A rare cinematic treat....
"How happy is the blameless vestal's lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd."
- Alexander Pope
Joel and Clementine, once a happy couple, break-up. Joel can't take Clementine out of his head so he decides to patch up. He then learns an unbelievable truth that she had a clinic named Lacuna "erase" all of her memories related to Joel. Joel too out of anger decides to take on the procedure of erasing Clementine-memories from his head.
Okay, I know what some may think. This is totally weird, right? But with Michel Gondry and Charlie Kaufman, the screenwriters, weird stories always become entertaining that has undeniably smart elements. Eternal Sunshine remains their best work to date. It's an unforgettable psychological journey in a person's brain, his dreams, his desires captured with such contrast and vivid beauty that you will be left asking for more. At first, we feel quite envious of the technology that literally removes "pain" from our minds. The direction and screenplay capture this magnificently by taking us in Joel's head and actually showing us in their way how it happens. But soon this desire dies out with a deep emotion of dissatisfaction. Because Joel watches these memories fade away, he gets a second chance to relive them. He then understands that memories, however painful, are vital. I really wanted this erasing thing to exist in real life at first but then the film's extremely strong presentation made me change my mind. This impressive part makes the whole non-linear experience unexpected, thought-provoking and excites us to a higher level of curiosity.
Once Eternal Sunshine grips us through it's smart allegory, it keeps getting better and better. What I loved most was the unexpected conclusion that forces us to wonder about the fate of the characters. What I loved more is that the film also never forgets the supporting cast, especially the "erasers" who work at Lacuna. During the erasing scene, which is the highlight of the entire film, the film kind of switches back and forth from Joel's memories to the real world. They show us the interaction of the Lacuna gang (Elijah Wood, Kirstin Dunst, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Wilkinson). As we surge through Joel's emotions, theirs too is not overlooked. The screenplay smartly shows us how we human beings feel emotions, how we look at the person who's memory we are erasing and the person who's having it erased. In Short, Eternal Sunshine has a weird but differently smart screenplay that works which also won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay in 2005. The Direction has a wonderful "flow" in it. The Cinematography has a beautiful colorful saturation and the score, wow, it just syncs with the flow. The film has impressive visual effects too that adds to the stunning imagery of Joel's memories.
Now, the acting. First of all, I have never seen Jim Carrey act a serious character before. Joel is boring, dull, seeks solitude. I still wonder how he did that. This proves that Jim Carrey is more of a versatile actor rather than a comedian. Kate Winslet portrays the energetic, over-talkative Clementine, a complete opposite of Joel. She was nominated for the Oscar for this role and it's quite worth it. The most difficult part is bringing two completely opposites together to love each other which is pulled off perfectly by the two artists. Then comes the Lacuna gang. Wow, another surprise here. Their acting was realistic, if simply put.
In conclusion, Eternal Sunshine is a spotless masterpiece. It's that piece of cinema that tries to approach film-making from a whole new perspective and the result is memorable. The film convinced me of the moral fact that even if you put someone out of your memory, you can't put them out of your heart. Be sure to check out Gondry's Being John Malkovich, another weird but thought-provoking film.
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