Spoilers don’t recall what just happened.
I always find Jim Carrey picks interesting projects every time he’s casted in a serious role. Unavoidably, he’s one of those personalities that will end up carrying a lot, if not all, of the movie’s weight. That being said, this might be one of the films I like despite his role. His participation is fine, but the character he plays doesn’t give him much to do. That being said, the movie concept more than makes up for it. With pluses and minuses, this feature is going to be a bit of a mixed bag but it does have some rare morsels that might make it your cup of tea.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) is directed by Michel Gondry based on a screenplay by Charlie Kaufman. Timid and introvert Joel (Jim Carrey) meets super-extrovert Clementine (Kate Winslet). The characters are rather strangely cliched, Joel is the stereotypical “nice” guy and Clementine the pixie girl character straight out of the manual. But then again, the movie is not about a typical romance. It’s actually a biased point of view in which the storytelling is already affected by the plot contrivance.
There’s no way to actually do this without addressing the elephant in the room. What makes or breaks this film is the storytelling, or rather the plot contrivance of the Lacuna company’s special service: memory erasing. This doesn’t sound exciting except for the fact that what we’re watching is affected by the memory being wiped, in other words we see memories as they mix, blend and get blanked in real time during the process.
Cinematographically, this means every scene reveals itself as a memory where blank spaces happen and memories get compromised. This is an effective way to make us immediately feel the regret of the character as they suddenly walk onto a different scenario with things being taken away or voices suddenly fading into the background. This is the part that is impressive and would have made it almost a personal favourite, except there’s one problem.
My problem here the characters. The idea with the pixie girl trope, which Clementine embodies, is traditionally turning the female lead into just a catalyst for the male lead’s character development and not much else. Truth is Joel the “nice” guy to such a basic level as to not have any growth throughout the entire runtime. He remains an empty template. It’s Clementine who initiates any interaction between them. We’re supposed to want these characters to stick together, but Joel never comes out of his shell. There’s nothing wrong with being an introvert but we never see anything inside that tells us what Joel is like. On the other hand, as interesting as Clementine seems to be written, her agenda only seems to be to bring Joel out of his shell, and doesn’t have any of her own.
Recommended with reservations. Cinematographically, you get to see the visual representation of memory being lost and it’s mixed into the storytelling in a way that draws you in. You are experiencing it as it happens. However, it’s hard to feel enthralled by our characters when Clementine is the pixie girl trope and Joel is an introvert character but never shows much of a personality. I didn’t quite see much reasons for these two to be together much less stay together. Worth a watch for the cinematography alone, but I didn’t see enough character development to guarantee a repeat viewing.
That will do for now.