Reviews & Columns
International DVDs
In Theaters
Reviews by Studio
Video Games

Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
DVD Talk Radio
Feature Articles

Anime Talk
DVD Savant
Horror DVDs
The M.O.D. Squad
Art House
HD Talk
Silent DVD

discussion forum
DVD Talk Forum

DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
RCE Info


Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (HD DVD)

Universal // R // April 24, 2007 // Region 0
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Daniel Hirshleifer | posted May 16, 2007 | E-mail the Author
The Movie:
Recall your worst heartbreak. Linger on it for a moment. Remember the pain, the feelings of betrayal, the anger, and the sense of hopelessness. Now, while you're reliving the most painful moments of your life, imagine someone offered you the chance to remove that agony...forever. Would you do it? How far would you go to erase somebody from your life, from your very memory? And is the eradication of the torment worth the price paid?

These are the questions posed by Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the second collaboration between director Michel Gondry (The Science of Sleep) and screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation). The film chronicles a few days in the life of Joel Barish (Jim Carrey). Barish wakes up one morning feeling confused and unsettled. On a whim, instead of going to work, he takes a train to Montauk. While there, he meets a disarming woman named Clementine (Kate Winslet), and the two hit it off. However, as the film reveals, The reason the two get along so well is that they actually spent several years together as a couple. However, neither of them remembers because they voluntarily had their memories erased through a breakthrough medical procedure. What does this mean for the future of their new relationship?

Eternal Sunshine is clearly a deeply personal film for Charlie Kaufman, who must have ruminated over the nature of relationships for months before putting words down on paper. It shows in the way his script breaks down Joel and Clementine's relationship using the most vital of moments. It's an impressionistic view of the couple, where the individual moments suggest a greater whole. This is heightened by the fact that the scenes are shown through the subjective lens of Joel's memory.

The conceit of memory erasure is the most striking initial element of the story. About 75% of the movie takes place in Joel's head, a very strange place to be. Our dreams are where symbols and forms mean more than words and reason, and Gondry does a remarkable job of creating a dynamic and interchanging inner world for Joel to inhabit. And as the memories are gradually taken from him, the actual material of his memories falls apart, degrades, and fades away. It's the kind of visual tour de force that Gondry has been working towards his entire career with his music videos, and here the visual style perfectly matches Kaufman's ideas.

But what would the visuals be without actors to inhabit the incredible worlds Gondry has created? Luckily he's got some good ones on board. Jim Carrey gives his most nuanced performance to date as Joel. He draws on all of his talents as a comedian and a dramatic actor to pull off the part, which requires a light touch with hidden depths. Carrey looks genuinely heartbroken when his memories of Clementine disappear. He makes you believe the truth of the story. Kate Winslet is just as good as the tempestuous Clementine. While the majority of her scenes are as seen through Joel's eyes, making her slightly less dimensional, she works well as both an archetype (in Joel's head) and the refutation of the same archetype (in real life). She also plays wonderfully against type, being a free-spirited would be punk with utter abandon.

The supporting cast is just as strong. You've got Tom Wilkinson as Dr. Mierzwak, the man responsible for the ability to erase memories. He plays Mierzwak as a man who doesn't have passion for anything but his work. Mark Ruffalo plays Mierzwak's main assistant, and Kirsten Dunst is his girlfriend, although she seems a little too enamored with the good Doctor. Elijah "Don't Call Me Frodo!" Wood plays the secondary assistant, who somehow managed to get in real close with Clementine real fast. Also, David Cross has a few hilarious scenes as a friend of Joel's. Together they fill in the spaces and round the movie out.

Put these components together and you have a mindbender of a movie that really sticks with you and has the capability to strike a deeply personal chord. From the writing to the directing to the acting, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a film that excels in every single aspect and leaves an impression on the viewer that cannot be erased.


The Image:
Universal presents Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind with a VC-1 1080p transfer in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The long and the short of this transfer is that it's great from start to finish. A film with this much visual imagination deserves a transfer with tremendous detail and that's just what we get here. Heck, I never even noticed the dot on Joel's temple during the opening titles until I watched this disc. Color reproduction is equally impressive, with the disc handling the contrast of muted colors and bright scenes that flit back and forth like images across the eyelid. In other words, this is everything a great transfer should be.

The Audio:
While Universal still seems determined to not use DolbyTrueHD, the Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 mix used here is pretty spectacular. Joel's dreamworld is filled with a cornucopia of sounds, some environmental and some coming from the recesses of Joel's mind. Even the reality scenes have plenty of background noise that create a vibrant atmosphere in the rear surrounds. Impressive work. Just wish it was lossless.

The Supplements:
Universal has seen fit to port over all the DVD extras from the previous two editions of Eternal Sunshine. They are as follows:

Commentary with Director Michel Gondry and Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman: Even by itself this track would make for a great set of supplements. Gondry and Kaufman talk openly and candidly about everything they can think of that relates to the movie. They needle each other, praise each other, and act like best buds, all while unloading tons of valuable information that any cinephile should want to hear.

A Look Inside Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind: A short making-of that has some good snippets of interviews, but ultimately shows too many clips from the movie.

Deleted and Extended Scenes: A collection of different scenes, including an excised subplot and further exploration into Kirsten Dunst's character. Worth catching.

A Conversation with Jim Carrey and Michel Gondry: Considering that neither Carrey nor Winslet are represented on a commentary, it's a shame we only get a 15-minute cut together discussion between Carrey and Gondry. What we do get, though, is all gold, as Carrey is his usual comedic self.

A Conversation With Kate Winslet and Michel Gondry: And Kate Winslet gets her own fifteen minutes. This one is a more serious discussion about the themes of the film and the characters. Winslet and Gondry both have excellent insights.

Inside the Mind of Michel Gondry: More than just a love letter to the director, this featurette actually goes into how many of the dream effects were pulled off, and were done so in camera. This is some must-see viewing for anyone who found the visuals as entrancing as I did.

Anatomy of a Scene: Saratoga Avenue: Really a two part extra, this one gives us a look at the scene where Joel walks down a street to find himself at the same end of the street as where he started. The second portion focuses on composer Jon Brion as he works on the score for the film. The reason for this disparity is that this extra was taken from a TV show.

Lacuna Infomercial: A brilliant fake infomercial for Lacuna Inc., the company that erases your memories. It has no mention of the film itself, and plays just like some cheapy fly-by-night medical ad would. I remember seeing this ad for the first time and being thoroughly confused by it, especially since I recognized Tom Wilkinson. One of the best ads for a movie I've ever seen.

Video by The Polyphonic Spree: I;m not a huge fan of The Polyphonic Spree, but this video is hilarious. Using clips from the film, the band badly edited the video to make it look as if everything in a scene is singing along to the song.

The Conclusion:
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is one of those movies that mixes style and content to create a wholly unique vision. Charlie Kaufman's touching script, in combination with Michel Gondry's vibrant directing and expressive acting from Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet create a singular cinematic experience that is worth watching again and again. And this HD DVD is the right way to do it. Stellar picture and sound, combined with a strong collection of extras, make for a disc that is easily Highly Recommended.

Daniel Hirshleifer is the High Definition Editor for DVD Talk.

Buy from






Highly Recommended

E - M A I L
this review to a friend
Popular Reviews

Sponsored Links
Sponsored Links