Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind DVD Review
2 Disc Collector’s Edition (2004)
This is an almost a perfect movie for me.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was directed by Michel Gondry who also wrote it along with Charlie Kaufman and Pierre Bismuth. I want to live in this man’s head for a day, his brilliance and creativity and ingenuity with limited resources was inspiring and gripping to say the least. This is a different kind of love story, beginning at the end and ending at the beginning. Joel played by Jim Carrey and Clementine played by Kate Winslet are a couple who have had their ups and downs like anyone else. During this latest down, Joel goes to a specialist to have his memories of Clementine erased after he finds out she did the same for him. As he drifts though the memories, he finds he doesn’t want to forget because he still loves her.
Jim Carrey took a turn for the dramatic here. One of his first scenes is really balling his eyes out in the car in utter anguish. It hits you right in the gut when you realize you can empathize with that emotion of being at bottom and that this normally comedic actor strikes right to your core. This character is so different from his other roles. He’s shy, awkward, inhibited for once, angry, and heart-broken.
Kate Winslet is one of my favorite actresses. Her Clementine is real, quirky, charismatic, impulsive, and moody. She is the outgoing one instead of Jim Carrey and carries many of the comedic moments. Her unique rainbow of hair colors really displays her personality to the world.
Meanwhile, Tom Wilkinson plays Dr. Howard Mierzwiak, inventor of the process of erasing memories. His employees include his receptionist, Mary played by Kirsten Dunst who admires him and secretly loves him, field worker Stan played by Mark Ruffalo who is in love with Mary and has a relationship with her, and another field worker, Patrick played by Elijiah Wood. Elijiah Wood plays an uncharacteristically creepy role here (this was before Sin City, mind you) who falls in love with Clementine during the memory erasure and uses Joel’s memories to woe her. It’s a very complicated layering of love triangles and while the storyline of the memory clinic workers is linear, the story of Joel and Clementine is backward through Joel’s eyes.
It’s amazing how memories of a person are just moments in time that you experience with them, good or bad and they can be very random or very special. Since it’s all within the mind, there’s a lot of jumping around and fuzziness, especially as Joel tries to find ways to outwit the process. It’s also one of those movies where you actually notice how good the music is, I got the soundtrack afterward. The love themes and the “Elephant Parade” track are especially moving. This movie will stick with you emotionally, the last scenes always bring tears to my eyes. It also takes you on a thrill ride that will open up your mind and keeps you on the edge of your seat wondering if he will succeed.
There is director & writer commentary and there are conversations with the director alone, with Jim Carrey, and with Kate Winslet as they dissect characters and talk about how certain effects were done. It’s amazing how simple some things were and how many ideas the director had, many that never even were used! One example is during one memory of an argument with Clementine, Joel is walking away and she becomes blurry while he does not. There were a pair of grips walking behind with a frosted glass pane to achieve the effect. In another scene, Clementine is leaving the apartment and she goes into one room and then appears in another and then appears by the front door. This was achieved with trapdoors and at the last second, a body double! Very smart, very simple. In one scene taken in one shot, Jim Carrey had to play Joel in the doorway and then Joel sitting in a chair in the room so he kept running behind the camera and putting his hat on and off till they got it. Some deleted scenes show more dreamy out-of-sequence events and odd situations with Clementine and Joel trying to evade the memory erasers. They give just a little more activity for the characters and illustrate the genius of the director. A Polyphonic Spree Music video is on Disc 1 and you’ll either love it or hate it. It’s a very sunny song that will make you jump around the room or groan in disgust depending on your frame of mind. I really enjoyed the Lacuna Commercial also on Disc 1 showing how the memory erasing could be advertised by the company, it’s pretty amusing and disturbing at the same time. One of my favorite bits would be the Anatomy of a Scene bonus feature on Disc 2 where they take the major fight scene where cars and things are falling from the sky in the memory and breakdown how it was done in layers, how things were added, until the final product developed. One last thing, this DVD comes with a Souvenir booklet that mainly has quotes from critics about how special and unique they felt the movie was along with many production still photos.