Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (USA; 108 min.)

directed by: Michael Gondry
starring: Jim Carrey; Kate Winslet; Tom Wilkinson
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Bob says in response to Rick and Hilary: "I think you folks are being a little rough on the movie. I avoid Carrey as much as just about anyone, but he definitely dialed down the wacky factor for this one, to the point where I don’t lump it in with other Jim Carrey vehicles. It’s the kind of part that doesn’t require his particular 'skills' and as such I think it probably would have been better with someone else in the lead, but I certainly don’t think he ruins the film.

"It’s not a great film by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s not trying to be scientifically accurate, it’s amusing enough, and it does some fun little head f*ck stuff. I remember thinking about a third of the way through that I’d caught a pretty big continuity error, but it (whatever it was – I seem to have had this particular memory erased) works itself out, because the whole film is a continuity error. That’s the idea, see?"

Bruce says: "For starters, I’m a big Jim Carrey fan. Let me qualify that. I think that he is one of the most talented actors alive. He needs a strong director. His performances too often have traces of juvenilia, mugging and crude gestures that most people outgrow somewhere in the vicinity of puberty. He must think these antics enhance his performance; actually, they detract.

"Secondly, I am not a Charlie Kaufman fan. A writer with obvious talent, he too frequently opts for the self-involved adolescent male solution rather than attempting a more adult approach to his subject matter. The first forty five minutes of BEING JOHN MALKOVICH were among the most magical moments I’ve experienced in film. What followed was so indescribably bad, words escape me. As for ADAPTATION, I may never be able to stomach Nicolas Cage on screen again. To me, over indulgent male insecurity just isn’t funny. Perhaps his shtick is designed to appeal to a generation which has not had a dose of Woody Allen.

In ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, both writer and actor have risen to the occasion to achieve their best work. Carrey plays down his part to a surprising degree. He is learning to separate gesture form caricature. He has matured in his ability to inhabit his character and not waver. Kaufman is successful to a lesser degree but has taken a giant leap in the self-restraint department. The story line is literally storm-tossed at the viewer. What’s real, what’s fantasy, what’s flashback are all tumbling about together. It dizzies the mind but it also challenges it. Three quarters of the way through the film I began to feel the style had overtaken the content. The story was getting waterlogged. Not seriously, just a bit. But enough to keep this from being a perfect film – and it had a good chance.

"The premise of erasing memory is a fun one. Coincidentally, I happened to see John Frankenheimer’s horror cult classic, SECONDS, the night before seeing this film. In SECONDS, a character gets his identity erased. In SUNSHINE, just the part of the memory that pertains to another human being gets erased. The person is otherwise left intact – still going on with the same likes and dislikes, same feelings, same modus operandi as before. It is also a love story, quite a sweet one, too.

"Kate Winslet, who so intrigued me in HEAVENLY CREATURES, tosses in one of her better performances. She plays very well opposite Carrey. The others are all more than adequate but have minor roles in comparison. This is really a two character film. 4 cats"

Chris says: "I found Jim Carrey a lot more bearable than usual in this movie, although he wouldn't have been my first choice for that role. I admit that this film has gotten more than a little overrated, but I was pretty moved at what it was trying to do once I made sense of the cyclical plot. Yeah, it's clever, but it has its share of surprising, epiphanous moments that I live for seeing in a movie. If you enjoy Kaufman's shtick, you'll love it more than his other films."
Diane says: "A few minutes after this latest Charlie Kaufman film opened, it struck me
that the movie was scripted by his twin brother. We're in for a ride! And so it was. I loved the concept, how it was handled visually, the humor. Jim Carrey gave a Bill-Murray-LOST IN TRANSLATION turn--finally something respectable and suitable. Also a pleasure to watch Mark Ruffalo and Tom Wilkerson. I didn't like the resolution of the romance--was less interested in the romance than the memory erasure." 3 cats
Hilary says in response to Rick: "Cut a square out for me too, Rick! I found this film aggressively annoying. I had low expectations going into it considering that BEING JOHN MALKOVICH put me to sleep and I've never bought the Jim Carrey genius theory, but I was still astounded by all of the rave reviews I'd read.

"I'll go out on a limb and embarrass myself: I didn't walk out only because I knew Mark Ruffalo was going to be appearing only in his underwear. It was painful to stay even with that payoff, though."

Howard says: "Geez... I'm almost afraid to post this.

"Frankly, I absolutely loved this film and it's my favorite of the year so far. This is a 'What If' film and nothing more. What if you could erase certain painful memories? What would happen? What are the consequences?

"As the film points out, the consequences aren't that good. In the end, it IS better to live with those memories since they define who you are, how you react socially and help create who you become.

"And after purposely or more often forced to watch a lot of Jim Carrey, I think his performance is incredibly subdued here. There is only one' Jim Carrey' moment in the entire film. When they are under the sheets and he's telling some goofy story in his goofy over-the-top voice. Otherwise, I thought he was great as a mousey, geeky bore.

"It may be the thin mountain air out here, but I was completely mesmerized by the film. And it seems to be a big hit out here since I've only heard from many friends and video store customers on how much they liked it as well.

"There, I've come out of the closet as an ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND fan.

"P.S. And, yes, I was looking forward to Mark Ruffalo's underwear scene, too."

Peg says: "Just wanted to say I agree that ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND is fantastic. Visually stunning and very moving. I think another actor besides Jim Carrey might have done something interesting with this, but that said, I was very impressed with his restraint and subtlety which I did not think him capable of..."
Rick says: "Am I the only one who hated this film? Given all the positive response, I expected to at least somewhat enjoy it, and maybe have some interesting ideas brought up by the film. Walking out of the theater, I was beyond disappointed. Indeed, I was was outraged! Outraged I say, outraged! Actual anger was evoked, like no other film I can think of. I'd go so far as to say I was 'offended.' And I'm never offended. Let me count some of the ways:

"1. The 'Charles River' was clearly NOT the Charles River. How dare they!

"2. It's become tiresome and aggrivating to see movies like this depict marijuana users acting irresponsibly, saying foolish things, and lacking motivation. The stereotyped 'pothead' as object of comic relief is overdone and I'm less and less willing to tolerate it these days. Many responsible adults use marijuana for a variety of reasons, be they medicinal, spiritual, psychotherapeutic, artistic apprheciation enhancement, sensual enjoyment, or as a tool for creative or scholarly production. Most remain closeted out of fear that they are violating the law. Scenes in this film serve as great propaganda for John Ashcroft and the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Whether one personally uses marijuana or not (and I don't these days), it's time that we stand up to these taxpayer funded misinformation campaigns. I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!

"3. Jim Carey's performance was NOT restrained. He was just as annoying as I imagine him in those bathroom humor movies that I haven't seen. And I actually liked him in MAN ON THE MOON, but not here. I fail to find the humor!

"4. A bit of a spoiler here... I'm in total agreement with the conclusion of the film, that memories, however hurtful, are valuable and integral to our humanity. I also sympathize with the main characters' decision to go forth with their relationship despite knowing that things will likely deteriorate in the way they did the first time around. What I didn't like, and in fact was infuriated by, was the manner in which they go about giving us this lesson like we are adolescents who've never loved and lost and done any soul searching about such issues. Oh, but maybe that's the point. This movie is meant for school children!

"5. Maybe I should just relax, suspend my disbelief and not be bothered by the unrealistic plot device of the memory erasing. But unlike science fiction that uses plausible technology, this brain machine is just plain nonsense. It's been well established that specific memories are not stored in identifiable locations of the brain that can be targeted for erasure. Furthermore, they depict this neurobiology lab as being run haphazardly by irresponsible young people. Isn't this a bit insulting to actual neuroscientists? Falsely depicting something and then proceeding to make fun of it just isn't funny to me, nor is it at all interesting. They ought to be shamed of themselves!

"Conclusion: ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND = Mainstream Corporate Hollywood Trash. If I had the time and energy I'd get some black cardboard and cut it into a square to symbolize my disapproval. I'd then stand in front of the theater and proclaim 'Here I am with my big black square of disapproval!' 0 cats."
Michael says: "Didn’t love it. Didn’t hate it. Came down pretty squarely in the middle. Intriguing storyline that might have been more interesting had Kaufman directed as well. I wasn’t all that thrilled with the storyline revolving around the bumbling scientists, although that is essential to the plot as laid out. Kate Winslet is superb, and I must admit, Mark Ruffalo dancing around in his underwear was the first time I ever thought of the man as sexy. Jim Carrey did a good job, but he kept reminding me of Peter Krause, and I think the film would actually have been better served by someone stronger. 3 cats"