Eternal Sunshine


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Eternal Sunshine

of the Spotless Mind
The Masked Reviewer

Thanks to the success of such films as:

Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World


Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

the studios have learned an important lesson: long titles = box office gold.  This seems strange, because the full title of the film doesn't even fit on the marquee.  But, nonetheless, the studios have made the connection.  We're fortunate that they didn't stick with the full title of the film, which included a colon and a subtitle (they always get you with the colon and subtitles).  It was supposed to be Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: The Quote from Alexander Pope That Seems Quite Fitting as a Title for This Movie.

It's a good thing that the Masked Reviewer has a policy about not spoiling the plot of movies.  Why?  Because the plot of Eternal Sunshine is intricately interwoven upon itself.  Actually, it could be boiled down to a few words, but it won't be.  Suffice it to say that it is the latest film from Charlie Kaufman, the writer behind Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind -- although the latter doesn't really feel like a Charlie Kaufman movie.  It lacks the weirdness of his other creations, which Eternal Sunshine does not lack.

That's not to say that the weirdness is bad...if you like Charlie Kaufman, you love Charlie Kaufman.  If you don't like his writing, you probably don't get it...there's nothing wrong with that, though.  It doesn't mean you're dumb.  He deals with interesting ideas and he doesn't hand them to you on a silver platter.  You have to pay attention and think.  Several people in the audience at the end of this motion picture complained that they didn't get it.  And, many people won't get this.  But if you do pay careful attention, it's totally worth it.  It makes you think in non-conventional ways about things that we all think about.  It also makes you feel, and any film that can do both of those things is good.

Many people claim that The Lord of the Rings trilogy is pure genius and thick with meaning and really makes you think.  About what?  Really, what are those movies about?  Duty?  Friendship?  Okay.  They're brilliantly crafted and an excellent adaptation of the original books, but what were those really about?  They were all about the visuals and the world, but not really about the characters.  It's like the new Dawn of the Dead compared to the original Dawn of the Dead.  Where's the substance? 

The answer is, here.  This film has substance, and it's good.  Unfortunately, in the Masked Reviewer's opinion, the substance gets a bit lost because it can get confusing.  Like Memento, the film isn't shot in chronological order, for the most part.  Much of the film takes place in one character's memories, and those memories pop in and out seemingly randomly. 

Still, the movie addresses a lot of relationship issues, like loneliness and compatibility and pain and happiness.  It's subtle and clever and poignant. 

Jim Carey and Kate Winslet star as the central couple in the film.  Their lives are intertwined with Mark Ruffalo, Kirsten Dunst, Tom Wilkinson, and Elijah Wood -- who played Frodo in The Lord of the Rings.  It's interesting to note that Elijah Wood's minor character in Eternal Sunshine is better developed than Frodo in over 9 hours of LotR.

Jim Carey is good.  He's finally broken free of the goofy nutjob stereotype from Ace Ventura and The Cable Guy and firmly established himself as a real actor, thanks to solid performances in The Truman Show and Man on the Moon.  Of course, he'll be in The Six Million Dollar Man next year, so all that work may go down the toilet, but enjoy it while it lasts.  He's good. 

Kate Winslet is fine, though she's not as good as someone else might have been.  Who?  Who knows.  Pick someone.

The Masked Reviewer likes Charlie Kaufman, and likes this movie.  Though he hasn't seen Human Nature yet, he has liked all of his other films.  But, they take some concentration.  And, if you want to kick back and enjoy a nice, mindless popcorn flick, this isn't a good choice.  It's also a really bad choice to see with people who constantly ask what's happening during a movie.  "Who's that?  Where did he come from?  Where's the other guy?"  You don't want to be in the same theater with any of those people during this one, because they won't shut up the whole film, and you won't have any answers for them.


Expectation from the Title: The Jessica Simpson story.

Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):  Jim and Kate make a cute couple, though why would she dye her hair those awful colors?

The Pros: Thought provoking, interesting, moving.  Jim Carey gives a good performance.  Elijah Wood is creepy (in this part, and in general).

The Cons: Requires concentration, the out-of-sequence scenes can be confusing at times.


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