PG Cooper: FCM Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Posted: June 20, 2012 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in Commentary

http://paulascinemaclub.com has the coolest idea for a blogathon. It’s called Future Classic Movies (FCM), where you pick a post 2000 movie and write about why you think it’s destine to be a future classic. A lot of people are going to be chiming in there thoughts, so I recommend checking out other FCMs here:  http://wp.me/p243hv-fh.

As for me, I knew what my FCM choice was the moment I saw the description; Charlie Kaufman and Michel Gondry’s masterpiece Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Joel and Clementine (Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet) have it a rough patch in their relationship. Joel wants to apologize to Clementine and move on, but finds out that Clementine has had her memory of Joel erased by a company called Lacuna Inc. Not wanting to deal with the pain of being erased, Joel decides to have his memories of Clementine erased from his own brain. As Joel’s memories are erased, Joel re-experiences all of them, and is taken through the heartbreak and hurt, but also the love and happiness of his time with Clementine.

Director Michel Gondry fills the screen with beautiful and creative imagery. Gondry’s visual flourishes range from little details, such as the pages of blanks turning blank, to cars falling from the sky. Even on a very modest budget, the visuals and effects are all very well done. They are also aided by some creative and cinematography and exciting editing. The film also benefits from a great and subtle score.

One of the reasons the film works so well is the cast. Joel and Clementine are two extremely likable characters, especially Joel. This is because of the writing, but also because of the talented actors playing the parts. Both Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet give the best performances of their careers. The two work off each other marvellously and you really feel their emotion coming through. Kate Winslet received a much deserved Academy Award nomination for Best Actress, but Jim Carrey was unfortunately snubbed. The supporting cast is also great too, featuring talented actors like Tom Wilkinson, Elijah Wood, and Mark Ruffalo.

But what ultimately assures me that Eternal Sunshine will be a future classic is the brilliant screenplay Charlie Kaufman. Kaufman is considered one of the best screenwriters out there, having also penned Being John Malkovich and Adaptation. From what I’ve seen, Eternal Sunshine is his best work. It’s a film that manages to be so many different things. It can be funny, it can be sad, it can be thrilling, it can be awe-inspiring. But throughout, it is consistently thought provoking. The basic concept at the heart of Eternal Sunshine is a very original and creative one that leads to some interesting themes on love, relationships, and technology. For me, the number one message I get is that as far as technology has and will advance, it is still miniscule when compared to the power of the human spirit. Kaufman also creates some great and memorable dialogue with certain quotes being etched into my brain forever.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a perfect movie on both a technical level and an emotional level. It’s also one of the few movies that will make you think and feel in equal proportions. It’s a film I could watch one hundred times over and still be in love with. If this isn’t a classic in ten years or so, then there is something seriously wrong with the world.

 

Comments
  1. ruth says:

    Glad to see you’re taking part in FCM [and giving Paula credit]. I haven’t seen this film but have heard great things about it and I know lots of people love this one. I’ll give it a go one of these days, I quite like Jim Carrey in non-slapstic comedies. Plus there’s Kate Winslet! :)

  2. Paula says:

    Hey PG (great initials ;)) thanks so much for this great post, it’s succinct but complete and that is difficult to do (for me anyway). I saw part of this movie once, and it really messed with my mind. Just that bit I saw was so visually stunning that I’m convinced Gondry is indeed a genius, and I believe we will be watching this one and discussing it well into the future :) Thanks again!

  3. impsndcnma says:

    This movie was put into an unfair position originally by me. I had just come off another Focus Features Production known as ‘Lost in Translation’. That movie would go on to become one of, if not my favorite film of all-time. Needless to say I had high expectations for Eternal Sunshine. My favorite Jim Carrey role up to that point was The Truman Show, so I was eager to see him in another dramatic role.

    To say that Eternal Sunshine exceeded expectations would be an understatement. It is one of my top 10 favorite films of all-time and from top to bottom is a layered enjoyable film. While some would argue that it doesn’t exactly end well, there’s some magic involved in how it ends and the connection Joel and Clementine share. Fantastic movie is an understatement. Nice Pick.

    • pgcooper1939 says:

      Thank you :)

      Lost in Translation is also a great film.

      As for Eternal Sunshine’s ending, I can’t see why people would dislike the ending. It’s great.

      • impsndcnma says:

        I’m sure you understand a lot of people crave closure from their movies. There’s no denying the greatness of ‘No Country for Old Men’, but for a lot of audiences that left too much unsolved. I’m not saying people would dislike the ending so much as they wouldn’t understand it without a re-watch or two. It’s amazing how much more becomes apparent on multiple re-watches.

  4. Eric says:

    Great writeup, PG. I badly need to revisit this movie. I haven’t seen it since it was released, and I know I didn’t give it the proper attention back then. We have the DVD sitting here at home… I think your selection has given me the boost I needed to give it another watch.

  5. I dotn know why but my home computer was glitching out when trying to comment on this last week

    Figured since I was on at work, I’d finally drop off my thoughts…

    I agree, I dont even think there’s any “Future” about it, I think this one was an “Instant Classic” – just waive the waiting period and recognize, you know? :D

    Kaufman’s script IS the biggest star, but Gondry’s direction shines as well. I agree with you that this is the best role for Carrey, I havent seen a couple of Winslet’s major ones, though, but this is my favorite of the ones I’ve seen. :D

    Nice choice!

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