Released: April 15 2004
Cast: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood, Tom Wilkinson
Director: Michel Gondry
Rated: M15+ low level coarse language
Running Time: 107 Minutes
Would You Erase Me?
Joel (Jim Carrey) is stunned to discover that his girlfriend Clementine (Kate Winslet) has had her memories of their tumultuous relationship erased. Out of desperation, he contracts the inventor of the process, Dr. Howard Mierzwaik (Tom Wilkinson), to have Clementine removed from his own memory. But as Joel's memories progressively disappear, he begins to rediscover their earlier passion. From deep within the recesses of his brain, Joel attempts to escape the procedure. As Dr. Mierzwiak and his crew (Kristen Dunst, Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood) chase him through the maze of his memories, it's clear that Joel just can't get her out of his head.
'Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind' movie is possibly going to become one of the treat movies for 2004. It is a movie about characters and their relationships from the master of the absurd, Charlie Kaufmann, who has delighted before us with some of his previous works, 'Adaptation' and 'Being John Malkovich'. Jim Carrey gives a remarkably restrained performance in a departure from his usual face-distorting comedic roles, which is a welcome surprise. He plays Joel Barrish who hooks up with the wild and impulsive Clementine, played with verve by Kate Winslet. Clementine changes her hair as often as she changes her mind, which is quite often. They mosey along nicely until one day, Joel visits Clementine at her work and she fails to recognise him. He is bewildered until he discovers that she had Joel erased from her memory by a technique from Dr Mierzwiak (Tom Wilkinson) and his assistants. This all takes place in the present so there is no science fiction element at work, but rather a new procedure that you can use much as you would a visit to the doctor for antibiotics. Joel is not happy that Clementine has chosen to eliminate him and decides if it's good enough for her, then it's good enough for him. He enlists Dr Mierzwiak to erase Clementine from his memory but whilst undergoing the procedure, he changes his mind regarding eliminating all of Clementine. He wants to keep some of the memories, to treasure and remind him of a wonderful time of his life. What follows is fun as we watch Joel try to escape releasing certain memories.
The title of the movie is quoted by Dr Mierzwiak's receptionist (Kirsten Dunst) and comes from a poem called 'Eloisa to Abelard' by Alexander Pope (1688-1744):
"How happy is the blameless Vestal's lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd."
This poem of course is in reference to the work that Dr Mierzwiak does with people's minds and begs the question, "would you choose to eliminate all memories of a person?" In Dr Mierzwiak's waiting room we see patients waiting their turn with all sorts of paraphernalia - a woman wanting to remove all memories of a pet dog as brought along its bowl, leash, photos. By removing all tangible evidence and then eliminating memories, it is as if the person/animal never existed. Fascinating stuff!!
There are also some wonderful quotes in the movie: Joel is wandering along a beach and says "Sand is overrated". This is a movie that will have you thinking long after it's over, which is surely one of the marks of great movie. It encourages you to reflect on memories of your own and question their place in your memory. It is definitely a must-see movie.
Rating : A
- Christina Bruce