Film Review Friday: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Written by: David Davidson

The film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is generally enjoyable, but does have its drawbacks. The film begins with Joel, played by Jim Carrey unknowingly being connected to a device that would erase all the memory of his former girlfriend Clementine, played by Kate Winslet. After waking up halfway through the procedure, Joel questions if the procedure is the right decision. Is it better to have loved and hurt, then never to have loved at all? This is the main theme of the film, should love survive after the death of a relationship. The way that the film executes the theme ranges from well polished to poorly.

The positives of the film extremely outway the negatives. First of all the film does not follow a linear storyline, but more like a labyrinth of thought. This mirrors the human mind, as the device searches farther and farther in Joel’s mind to erase any detail of Clementine. The internal conflict that Joel faces shows the true love that he has for this forbidden love. Joel lacks the social skills, though to communicate this compassion, and thus drives Clementine to desert him, ironically. The cinematography of the film also mirrors the labyrinth of the mind. For example, the cover image of the poster, showing the couple of Joel and Clementine on a sheet of cracking ice, shows only one of the different ways the director envisioned the composition (bird’s eye). The symbolism of the ice cracking, was also memorable, but other symbols start the negative side of the movie.

The film features extremely disturbing imagery that take away from the piece. For example whenever Joel faces himself, later in the film, a blurred image appears over his face. The film tries to show these as glitches in the system of mind eraser, but overall it comes off as cheesy and ages the movie as a result. Also the portrayal of Clementine, either by direction, writing, or the acting of Kate Winslet make the character come off as arrogant. To see Joel attempt so hard to mend the bond, only make it a harsher contrast as it seems like she thinks that she is too good for him. Overall the movie as a whole was a positive experience, despite the small drawbacks.

Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind. Directed by Michel Gondry, Performances by Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet, Focus Features, 2004.

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