Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) - Widescreen Edition

Genre(s): Drama / Mystery / Romance
DreamWorks, Universal || R - 108 minutes - $19.98 || September 28, 2004
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2004-09-25


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Michel Gondry
Writer(s): Charlie Kaufman (story) & Michel Gondry (story) & Pierre Bismuth (story), Charlie Kaufman (screenplay)
Cast: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood, Tom Wilkinson


Theatrical Release Date: March 19, 2004


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Director & Writer Commentary
  • A Look Inside Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  • A Conversation with Jim Carrey and writer Charlie Kaufman
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Music Video
  • Lacuna Infomercial


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (1.85)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (DTS 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

When I first watched Eternal Sunshine in the theater, I thought the story was very weird (as per Charlie Kaufman's M.O.) but upon seeing it again today, it truly was a fairly straight-forward romantic drama about lost love, just with a different spin put upon it. Also interesting seeing this film for the second time, were the things I didn't notice before, such as book titles disappearing or other little items like that.

The main problem that keeps this film from being a classic, IMHO, is there are a few lull spots that the story or characters didn't seem too interesting. Lucky enough, however, it picked back up towards the end and left me with a certain bittersweet sadness when the end credits rolled. While this is not a perfect film, it is one of the more emotionally charged films to come around this year.

"You can erase someone from your mind. Getting them out of your heart is another story."

Joel Barish (Carrey) is a straight-lace, strange guy who has trouble meeting women. Clementine Kruczynski (Winslet) is a free-spirit type who can't stay in a long relationship. But you know what they say, opposites attract. They both bring something out of each other that the other is afraid of. After being together for some time, though, they split and Clementine goes to a clinic to have Joel erased from her memory. Upon finding this out, Joel, out of spite, wants Clem out of his mind. This mind-erase clinic is run by Dr. Howard Mierzwiak (Wilkinson), with Mary (Dunst) at the front desk, and Stan (Ruffalo) and Patrick (Wood) are the mind-erase techies.

What follows is something that only screenwriter Charlie Kaufman can come up with. As with most of his screenplays, Kaufman delves into the human mind and puts on the screen some of the most strangest things that I can't imagine how he could describe it on paper: People vanishing, cars and other objects appearing out of nowhere, the space and time continuum out of whack (which is what happens in most dreams, I think).

Much like Kevin Smith in a way, Charlie Kaufman has his own little universe where some of the laws of logic or just basic physics just don't and, really, cannot apply. Some screenwriters would try to make this more of a morality tale (which happens here a little, but not much) but instead focuses on how we, as humans interact with each other as well as just the basics of the human heart. And that is what's at the core of Kaufman's works and what makes him a cult icon.Still today, I remember Adaptation and how much it worked despite how weird it got at times with the narrative which ultimately blew my mind :).

I know some people hate Jim Carrey when he takes on more dramatic roles, but frankly, I think that's when he's at his best. I remember back in '98 and going to see The Truman Show, where Carrey truly broke out of his Ace Ventura/zany-antic roles and showed that he indeed and play a three-dimensional character that is beyond butt-jokes. While I don't think Carrey topped his performance as Truman Burbank, he still not only gives a great performance, but also has some genuine chemistry with co-star Kate Winslet.

If I had to point to just one thing I enjoyed about this film, it would be Kate Winslet. Aside from Titanic, I haven't really seen anything else she has been in. And while she gave a good performance in that movie, she was overshadowed by both Leonardo DiCaprio as wells as the ship itself. Here in Eternal Sunshine, she takes what could've easily been a cliche part and turns it into a role that manages to outshine even Carrey!

Eternal Sunshine also brings together a very talented supporting cast including Spider-Man's Kirsten Dunst, the Ring-keeper himself, Elijah Wood, character-actor Mark Ruffalo and (my favorite) Tom Wilkinson who appeared in one of my favorite drama, In the Bedroom. I have to admit that even though all of these actors turn in good performances, they could've been filled by someone a little more less known. I have to say, though, Elijah Wood in particular really sheds his own mold of the hobbit and plays this creepy guy who tries to go out with Clementine by using all of Joel's possessions that would get to her.

Now, the other actor who you may not think of for reinvention is Andy Serkis whose claim to fame was playing the CGI character, Gollum in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. While Serkis was playing the typical boss whose main purpose is to worry and yell at times, he still has a certain charm that keeps the character from being something bland or unoriginal.

While Eternal Sunshine has some touching and very memorable moments, I just did not feel that ultimate connection with the characters as I thought I should have in the end. Yes, I liked them. And yes, I cared for them. But there's some sort of problem where I just wasn't ultimately impacted that is too hard to put into words.

Overall, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a unique film that can be added to the Kaufman collection. While it's not a great movie, it is still very well made and written. Take a look at Adaptation and depending on your feelings of that film, you'll get an idea whether this is worth your time and money.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Given this a low budget film, I don't expect a lot of features nor to I think the one's that are on there will be anything of value. For this disc, it is a bit of both value and fluff.

First, "A Look Inside Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is your typical behind-the-scenes featurette that has interviews with the cast and crew. The one element I liked, however, was when director Gondry shows the tricks he used in some scenes -- such as the one where Joel (Carrey) is 4 years old and hiding underneath the table or trying the reach the fridge door (he used scale models, sort of like in Lord of the Rings).

The other featurette, "A Conversation with Jim Carrey and Director Michel GOndry" was very funny and showed some behind-the-scenes antics from Carrey, including one where Carrey is literally driving a bed! The footage goes on for a couple of minutes (with both Carrey and Gondry talking) as Carrey drives around on the streets. I remember seeing this on another show (maybe Entertainment Tonight). Also featured was a rehearsal of sorts between Carrey and Kate Winslet as they try to form a chemistry.

The commentary track with director Gondry and writer Charlie Kaufman was... well, dull. While Kaufman had a few interesting things to say, I had a hard time understanding Gondry -- who has a fairly thick French accent -- which made it hard listening to their conversations. The stuff I could understand dealt primarily with the acting or when Carrey got interesting in the role.

Lastly, there's the music video, Lucuna Infomercial (which was different from the one seen in theaters) and deleted scenes. The deleted scenes were pretty interesting to watch, though a couple of them could be called extended scenes instead. One of those scenes had Joel coming home from his date with Clementine (where she told him to call her immediately) and instead he fist calls his ex-girlfriend, Naomi.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

Both sound and picture were both almost perfect, though I thought the sound could've been somewhat better. I will say, however, as long as both the sound and picture are decent enough, they don't really matter for a drama or comedy.



.::OVERALL::.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a DVD you don't get for the special features (though, they're pretty good), but instead for the great -- and weird -- story from Charlie Kaufman and for the excellent performance from Jim Carrey.