Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (8/10)

Copyright © 2004 by Tony Medley

Complicated doesnít begin to describe this script by Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation). One morning shy Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) decides not to go to work and instead hops on a train to Montauk, a seaside retreat on the eastern tip of Long Island, where he walks along the beach. On the way back he meets extroverted Clementine Kruczynski (Kate Winslet), who more or less picks him up on the train and they begin a relationship. Then she decides she doesnít want to continue so goes to a sort of clinic, run by Dr. Howard Mierzwiak (Tom Wilkinson), where a personís brain may be erased of specific memories, to erase Joel.

Joel learns of this and goes to the clinic. He is so upset he applies to have his brain erased of Clementine. The idea is that he brings all the things he has that pertain to her and then they come to his apartment, put a big electronic thing connected to a computer over his head and he goes to sleep while they electronically erase everything pertaining to her from his brain overnight. When he awakens in the morning, she should be not even a memory.

But during the night, while heís asleep, he changes his mind. This is where it gets complicated. Not only are the technicians performing the purge, Mary (Kirsten Dunst), Stan (Mark Ruffalo), and Patrick (Elijah Wood), distracted by romance, as we journey through Joelís brain, we find we are involved in time warps and other mental shenanigans as Joel fights against the process while heís asleep. Itís love against technology; which will conquer?

In addition to things not being what they appear, relationships are not as we assume. Even the opening sequence doesnít seem to be what we thought it was. Maybe this isnít for everyone, but itís so well written, directed (Michel Gondry), and acted that I found it beguiling, thought provoking entertainment.

March 10, 2004

The End