ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND: DVD
The somewhat withdrawn Joel (Jim Carrey) one day meets a girl who seems to take a liking to him, and they begin a patchy relationship. But Joel is hurt and surprised when he learns that his impulsive girlfriend, Clementine (Kate Winslet), has had a procedure to erase him from her memories. In an effort to deal with the pain of rejection, he goes to Dr Mierzwiak (Tom Wilkinson) to have the same thing done to his memories of Clementine. But even as Dr Mierzwiak's not so professional team (Kirsten Dunst, Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood) go deep into his memories, Joel begins to fight the procedure, realising he really does love the feisty Clementine. They meet up in his memory and try various tricks to evade the process.
Review by Andrew L. Urban
Writer Charlie Kaufman has taken us inside minds before, notably with Being John Malkovich and Adaptation; this time it's a specific memory erasure process that gives the screenplay its dramatic tool. Talk about dreaming! Imagine if you could go to your local memory specialist for a session to forget your ex. Or your mother in law. Or your boss. Charlie avoids these tantalising prospects (but maybe he could work on a follow up script) and concentrates on romantic love.
Jim Carrey's Joel is as dishevelled and unshaven as Kaufman's own persona via Nicolas Cage in Adaptation, and he also shares the retiring elements of that character. Kate Winslet is not so constrained, given a colourful personality to match the various hair colourings she likes to apply with haphazard abandon.
The film is a great deal of fun as these two central characters play out a romance that goes to ruin, then a rescue of that romance inside Joel's memory, and finally - though we're not quite sure how this comes about - a resolution that satisfies without going syrupy.
Thrown into the mix is a small side-bar with Elijah Wood as a creepy lover and Tom Wilkinson as the unfaithful husband caught re-bonding with the ex mistress. Now there's another use for this memory stripper....
The film entertains for the most part and gives us a set of marvellous performances from this outstanding cast, even if it doesn't quite reach the near-genius of Kaufman's other writings. Michel Gondry, one of Kaufman's accomplices, directs with confidence and manages the demanding slip-slop from fantasy to reality with well-oiled panache.
But the film's flighty appearance disguises its heartfelt intentions as it explores the very stuff that gives us a grip on each other in a relationship: our memories of each other, both as individuals and as a unit. And as the wackiness clears, the film's message urges us to see each other for what we are, without the baggage of what might be ideal or preferable.
The DVD comes with a commentary track and a couple of extras. A Look Inside... is a fairly predictable trip through the self congratulatory interviews, but when the conversation between Jim Carrey and Michel Gondry (which is in front of a drum kit, with the guys sitting in school desks - don't ask) gets going, it's pretty funny, and occasionally informative, with Michel Gondry's French accent a welcome quirk. The handful of deleted scenes include one long one in which Joel has to explain in great detail about Clementine to Dr Mierzwiak, as a preparation for erasiong her from his memory. It's a great scene, if longwinded.
The highlight, of course, is the commentary by director Gondry and writer Kaufman. It begins with a jokey, nervous exchange between them as to how to approach the commentary. Let's narrate it for blind people, quips Gondry. But then they get into it and there are many insights, though perhaps not as deep into Kaufman's mind as we'd like. But then as Gondry says at one point, "But Charlie, we can't explain everysing...sometime sings are just coming out of the blue..."
Published December 16, 2004
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ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND: DVD (M)
CAST: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood, Tom Wilkinson
DIRECTOR: Michel Gondry
SCRIPT: Charlie Kaufman (story by Charlie Kaufman, Michel Gondry, Pierre Bismuth)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Ellen Kuras ASC
MUSIC: John Brion
RUNNING TIME: 107 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Films
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 15, 2004
PRESENTATION: Widescreen; DD 5.1 & DTS 5.1
SPECIAL FEATURES: A look inside ...; a conversation with Jim Carrey & Michel Gondry; audio commentary by Michel Gondry & Charlie Kaufman; deleted scenes; Light & Day music video; Lacuna tv commercial
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Entertainment
DVD RELEASE: December 16, 2004