Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Universal // R // $29.99 // September 28, 2004
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted September 29, 2004
Highly Recommended
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The Movie:

"Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" is a terrific movie, although one with one nagging flaw that I can't get over. There's one line in a scene early on in the movie where I felt as if I then knew where the film was eventually headed. I still think it's a terrific movie, but I wish that line wasn't there.

The film focuses on Joel Barish (Jim Carrey), a lonely guy who has become tired of facing the day-to-day issues, such as car troubles, a routine life and an unsatisfying job. After he wishes to no one in particular that he could meet someone, he comes upon Clementine Kruczynski (Kate Winslet) on a beach. The two hit it off, despite the fact that he's shy and she's manic.

The film then jumps to another date down the road, and we find that Joel and Clementine have gone through an unhappy breakup. Distraught and saddened, Joel tries to talk to her and she acts as if she completely has no clue who he is. After some investigating, he finds out that she went to a company called Lacuna Inc., who are in the business of getting rid of unwanted or painful memories.

Angered by Clementine's actions, Joel goes to Lacuna himself and signs up to have the procedure done on himself, meeting with Dr. Howard Mierzqwiak (Tom Wilkinson). Afterwards, the doctor's associates - Stan (Mark Ruffalo) and Patrick (Elijah Wood), as well as the company's receptionist, Mary (Kirsten Dunst) - visit and begin the erasure. However, things don't go entirely as planned, as Joel eventually begins to change his mind about erasing his former girlfriend from his memories. As the assistants try to seek out the memories, Joel runs throughout his mind, trying to protect Clementine from being taken away from him. The main body of the film has Joel reliving his memories, becoming increasingly frantic in his search for safety somewhere within his memories. To make matters worse, the technicians doing the procedure have some moral and ethical issues of their own to contend with.

Written by Charlie Kaufman ("Adaptation") and directed by Michel Gondry ("Human Nature"), "Enternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" is a creative and visually fascinating (the film's visual effects are terrific and there's one great-looking moment where Joel takes Clementine way back in order to hide her) picture that succeeds in large part by taking Jim Carrey out of his element - with Kate Winslet taking on the outgoing, hyper role, Carrey finds himself with the dramatic lifting and does quite superbly with it. Mark Ruffalo, Kirsten Dunst, Tom Wilkinson and Elijah Wood provide excellent supporting efforts as the Lacuna employees. Finally, despite always enjoying Kate Winslet's performances, she's fantastic here as the free-spirited girlfriend to Carrey's withdrawn Joel.

"Eternal Sunshine" is a marvelous feature - although I had the right idea about where it'd end up, the journey there was funny, saddening, emotional and often quite inspired. Despite the fact that the film did only decent business at the box office, I think this memorable film will be more successful on DVD.


VIDEO: Universal presents "Eternal Sunshine" in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The transfer isn't without a few minor issues, but it's largely a great effort. Sharpness and detail were fantastic throughout much of the film, as fine details were clearly visible in many shots. The image also offered great depth and largely consistent definition. Although a few minor instances of softness were present, the picture almost always looked very crisp and very detailed.

A couple of minor/mild things took away from the image: edge enhancement appeared in some scenes, but not to a distracting degree. The image also showed some minor-to-mild grain, but this seemed intentional, and was visible when I saw the film theatrically. No pixelation or wear on the print were noticed. The film's color palette switches back-and-forth from being very subdued to more warm and vivid and the presentation represents both sides well, with nice saturation and no issues.

SOUND: "Enternal Sunshine" is presented by Universal in Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1. During the scenes where Carrey's Joel is running through his memories, the surrounds occasionally come into play to provide some voices and other effects. Otherwise, the rear speakers remain pretty much silent, aside from maybe a couple of minor instances of effects or score reinforcement. Audio quality was perfectly fine; the score and effects remained crisp and well-recorded, while dialogue remained cleanly presented. Both the DTS and Dolby Digital tracks provided equally pleasing efforts.

EXTRAS: The main supplement is an audio commentary from director Michel Gondry and screenwriter/producer Charlie Kaufman. This is a decent commentary, as the two remain fairly low-key throughout the track, with Gondry doing most of the talking. The two chat about shooting on location, creating the visual look of the film, the long history of the production and casting, among other issues. The commentary does offer some tidbits at times, but it's fairly slow going and suffers from some gaps of silence.

Next is "A Conversation Between Jim Carrey and Michel Gondry". This documentary has the actor and director talking about the film. There's some interesting stories about shooting scenes such as the kitchen moment, some good laughs and a few tidbits. Still, probably something one will only watch once.

Finally, viewers also get four deleted scenes (w/o commentary), a pretty generic "making of" featurette, the music video for The Polyphonic Spree's "Light & Day," and the Lacuna commercial.

Final Thoughts: "Enternal Sunshine" offers superb performances from Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet, fascinating visuals and a clever, compelling story. Universal's DVD offers very good image quality, fine audio and a nice helping of supplements. Definitely recommended.

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