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Michel Gondry
Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Gerry Robert Byrne, Elijah Wood, Thomas Jay Ryan, Mark Ruffalo, Jane Adams, David Cross, Kirsten Dunst
Writing Credits:
Charlie Kaufman, Michel Gondry, Pierre Bismuth

Would you erase me?

From acclaimed writer Charlie Kaufman and visionary director Michel Gondry comes Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. An all-star ensemble cast shines in this comical and poignant look at breakups, breakdowns and breakthroughs.

Joel (Jim Carrey) is stunned to discover that his girlfriend, Clementine (Kate Winslet), has had their tumultuous relationship erased from her mind. Out of desperation, he contacts the inventor of the process, Dr. Howard Mierzwiak (Tom Wilkinson), to get the same treatment. But as his memories of Clementine begin to fade, Joel suddenly realizes how much he still loves her.

Box Office:
$20 million.
Opening Weekend
$8.175 million on 1353 screens.
Domestic Gross
$34.126 million.

Rated R

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English DTS 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1

Runtime: 108 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 9/28/2004

• Audio Commentary with Director Michel Gondry and Writer Charlie Kaufman
• “A Conversation with Jim Carrey and Michel Gondry”
• “A Look Inside Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
• Deleted Scenes
• Music Video
• Lacuna Infomercial


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (2004)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 28, 2004)

Try as he might to convince viewers that he’s a serious actor, audiences still don’t seem to take to Jim Carrey as anything other than a wacky goofball. Today’s evidence: 2004’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, an effort whose $34 million gross fell far short of Carrey’s usual mega-zillions. Not that Carrey’s presence acted as a deterrent to its success, as this eccentric art house flick likely would’ve failed to reach much of an audience no matter who appeared in it.

Written by Charlie Kaufman, Mind will remind viewers of his other flicks like Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, though one might not think that from its start. Mind will be tough to discuss and not present any spoilers, so I’ll include fewer specifics than usual in my synopsis.

At the film’s start, we see how solitary, lonely and introverted Joel Barish (Carrey) meets wild, spirited Clementine Kruczynski (Kate Winslet). We watch their love affair blossom and then apparently skip to a later point in their relationship. She dumps him and then acts like she doesn’t know him when he tries to talk to her.

Quickly Joel finds out what happened: Clementine went to a company called Lacuna Inc. and had her memories of Joel totally erased. Hurt by this, Joel decides to go through the same procedure and eliminate all recollection of Clementine. However, as the process progresses, he has second thoughts and tries to fight it.

The movie follows those actions as well as what happens with the team from Lacuna. That group includes technicians Stan (Mark Ruffalo) and Patrick (Elijah Wood) as well as company secretary - and Stan’s girlfriend - Mary (Kirsten Dunst) and company chief Dr. Howard Mierzwiak (Tom Wilkinson). Their little soap opera plays out as an alternate storyline while Joel tries to retain his memories.

During the film’s first portions, one can be excused for believing it’ll be little more than another trite “wacky, expressive girl brings repressed, sad man out of his shell” story. The portions in which Clementine and Joel meet and fall in love follow that path, and based on that, I didn’t look forward to the rest of the flick.

However, matters quickly take another path and become more interesting. Once we learn of the memory-erasure process, the story turns decidedly quirky. This means it might go into “precious” and “cutesy” territory, another element that manifests itself during the cloying first portion; the score is decidedly whimsical and fairly annoying for those moments.

While Mind put me off in its first act, it manages to grow very intriguing without much delay. Again, I find it difficult to discuss the movie without entering into “spoiler” territory, but suffice it to say that its detours usually surprise us. The flick doesn’t seem to toy with us unfairly, though, as it provides hints for various twists. For example, when Joel’s description of his first meeting with Clementine doesn’t match up with our observations, we get a clue.

This is the kind of movie you’ll want to watch a couple of times to pick up on the various nuances. It’s a decidedly non-linear tale, but not one that ever becomes confusing. Even the potentially muddled first act makes sense as you watch it. You just need to constantly reconfigure what “makes sense” means, as the movie changes viewpoints rapidly. It turns into a very interesting way to explore the dynamics of a relationship. Mind contrasts memories and perceptions with “reality” and lets us understand the malleability of all those factors.

Mind certainly benefits from an excellent cast. The role of Joel allows Carrey some chances to do his trademark shtick, but he usually plays it fairly straight. The memories can get quite broad, and that’s when he gets to ham it up. Mostly he needs to take a more realistic tone for Joel, and he does this well. It’s a moving and effective performance, and the other actors live up to that level.

At times Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind can be a little too self-consciously quirky for its own good. Movies like this walk the proverbial fine line between clever and stupid, but Mind stays on the right side of that line most of the time. It starts slowly, but stick with it and you’ll find a clever and involving tale.

The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio B+/ Bonus B-

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Due to the cinematographic choices, Mind presented a bland picture, but one that the DVD represented fairly well.

For the most part, sharpness seemed positive. Some light softness crept in at times, but not with any real frequency. Instead, most of the flick appeared well defined and detailed. Some noticeable jagged edges and shimmering occasionally occurred, and I also saw some mild to moderate edge enhancement that popped up periodically throughout the movie. Print flaws seemed absent, as I noted no signs of specks, marks, or other defects. Grain could be somewhat heavy, though.

Mind presented a limited palette that featured largely stylized colors. Within those constraints, the tones looked fine. They were reasonably concise and vivid. Black levels seemed fairly deep and firm, while shadows were clean and well-developed. Ultimately, Mind seemed a little erratic but generally positive.

As for the audio, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind included a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Overall, the audio seemed good, mainly due to the “inside the head” scenes. The soundfield mainly came to life on those occasions. It used the rear speakers effectively for the scenes that dealt with those elements and created a lot of cool effects. Those worked nicely, but they popped up fairly sporadically. Outside of those situations, the mix stayed pretty subdued. It offered nice stereo imaging for music and a general sense of ambience, but not much more than that. Still, enough of these occurred to make the track active and involving, and it featured the surrounds in a creative manner.

Audio quality appeared solid. Speech consistently came across as natural and concise, and I noticed no issues related to edginess or intelligibility. Music seemed clear and vivid, as the score presented firm tones. Effects also appeared clean and accurate. They suffered from no distortion and boasted fine bass response during the appropriate sequences. In the end, the audio of Mind served the movie fairly well.

As we head to the supplements, Mind begins with an audio commentary from director Michel Gondry and writer Charlie Kaufman. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific discussion. A definite disappointment, they don’t tell us much of substance. Gondry heavily dominates the piece. Kaufman relates no more than one or two useful tidbits, as he mostly remains silent.

Although a moderate amount of dead air occurs, Gondry proves chattier, but not terribly informative. He tells us a little about locations, casting, cinematographic choices, working with the actors, and general production notes. Some of the better elements connect to his interactions with Carrey, especially when he lets us know about disagreements. However, much of the time he does little more than narrate the film or praise parts of it. Ultimately this adds up to a pretty tedious commentary.

We get more from the director during A Conversation with Jim Carrey and Michel Gondry. In this 15-minute and 35-second chat, we get a dialogue between that pair as well as plenty of shots from the set. They discuss adaptations to the original script, character development, working on the funky sets and some arguments, dealing with story complications, and various anecdotes from the shoot. The clips from the shoot are the best parts, especially when we see Carrey drive around in a bed. We also get a good depiction of how the movie uses forced perspective. It’s not the most informative piece, and it can be pretty fluffy at times, but it’s fun.

Next we discover A Look Inside Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, an 11-minute and 32-second featurette. This offers the standard mix of movie clips, behind the scenes elements, and sound bites. We hear from Gondry, Carrey, actors Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Elijah Wood, Tom Wilkinson, and Mark Ruffalo, and producer Anthony Bregman. Basically just a promotional piece, this show offers simple notes about the story and character but little else. It’s eminently skippable excuse to show a lot of film snippets.

Four Deleted Scenes fill seven minutes and two seconds. One features a phone conversation between Joel and his ex-girlfriend Naomi that would have preceded his first call to Clementine. We also see Joel’s early interview at Lacuna, another one of his memories in the process of extinction, and a short Joel/Clementine sex scene. None of these seems terribly valuable, but they’re reasonably interesting to see.

The extras conclude with two components. We get a Music Video for “Light and Day” by Polyphonic Spree. I loathed the hippy-drippy Spree from the second I heard them, and this creepy video didn’t change my mind about them. It takes movie scenes and awkwardly alters the actors and settings to make them mouth the lyrics. This doesn’t sound bad, but in execution, it’s really disturbing. The Lacuna Infomercial runs 37 seconds and presents when it describes: an ad for the organization featured in the movie. It’s cute.

The DVD opens with some Previews. We get an ad for Focus Features plus ones for Vanity Fair and The Motorcycle Diaries. No trailer for Mind appears on this DVD.

A pleasant surprise, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind looks trite at the start but it soon blossoms into something creative and involving. The movie doesn’t take too many predictable paths as it follows an unusual path to communicate the complications of relationships. The DVD offers fairly good picture and audio plus a moderately informative set of extras. Something different, I recommend Mind.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.4375 Stars Number of Votes: 64
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