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Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (rewatch)

Posted by martinteller on February 17, 2005

Insanely clever — perhaps the single most inventive movie I’ve ever seen.  Gondry’s sense of style is superb, and his use of technique is as clever and intriguing as Kaufman’s script.  But if it was just clever (like a previous Kaufman script, Being John Malkovich), that wouldn’t be good enough.  Fortunately, ESotSM is not merely clever.  It’s also very insightful and poignant.  Its attitude towards love is refreshing — neither too naive nor too cynical, revelling in the moments and memories that define a relationship, both good and bad.  

The performances are mostly above average.  Kate Winslet does an excellent job, but I think at times she’s not given enough room.  Her character is over-written, and it must be tough to deliver lines like “I’m not a concept” with any sense of conviction.  Jim Carrey succeeds in not being Jim Carrey so I guess that’s an achievement, although he really doesn’t breathe much life into the role.  

Which brings me to my major complaint: it’s not really clear why Clementine falls for Joel.  I guess it’s not such a problem… the movie is mostly told from Joel’s point of view, so if the relationship seems one-sided that’s understandable.  Still, it would have helped me get behind the love story if Joel did more than meekly respond to Clementine’s wackiness and scribble protectively in his journal.

For this reason, I’m bringing my rating down to a 9, but you could consider it more like a 9.5.

A note about the DVD packaging: don’t cram the inside booklet with gobs of critics’ blurbs.  I already bought it, you don’t have to sell me.  It’s bad enough you put all that self-congratulatory stuff on the OUTSIDE of the box, I’d prefer something with substance on the inside.  It’s the most shamelessly obnoxious packaging I’ve ever seen.


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