Movie Review: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Eternal Sunshine of Spotless Mind

Synopsis: A couple going through a break up decide to erase each other from their minds. However, it’s only as they start to forget each other that they remember what they have to lose.

Director: Michel Gondry

Starring: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Tom Wilkinson, Kirsten Dunst

Review: Whilst not an official ‘horror movie’ Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind does raise some interesting questions: would you erase the painful memories from your past? Let’s be honest, we all want to forget something, but would you do it if you just didn’t want to remember a painful breakup, an argument, loss of a loved one?

There’s a really strong cast here, with Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Elijah Wood, Kirsten Dunst and Tom Wilkinson to name a few and they all turn in an excellent performance.

Following their breakup, Joel (Jim Carrey) undergoes a procedure to remove all memories of his girlfriend Clementine (Kate Winslet). However, whilst he’s having the procedure, he realises that perhaps some things are better remembered and his mind rebels, trying to find a place to ‘hide’ his memories of the love he shared with Clementine, so we get to see their relationship, its highs and lows and the ultimate cause of their breakup.

I think this movie raises a number of questions about morality, control and our right to remember and act as individuals, something explored further in Joss Whedon’s ‘Dollhouse’, but covered here in the arc of Mary (Kirsten Dunst) and her employer Dr Mierzwiak (Tom Wilkinson). Are these procedures done with the full consent and understanding of the patient? And what if the patient doesn’t fully understand or agree with the end results of the procedure? Or what happens if the Doctor becomes a little to omnipotent? It’s a topic touched upon in the movie and leaves the audience with some troubling thoughts once it’s finished.

I love the chemistry between Winslet and Carrey, both of whom alternate between very intense drama and lighter scenes where Carrey is chasing her through his mind. The cinematography and use of colours is great so you clearly know ‘where’ you are, either in reality or not. It’s a movie about ‘real’ people, dealing (or trying to avoid) their pain in whatever means they can, be it through getting drunk, or making poor relationship choices.  Each of these characters displays great levels of self awareness but none seem to know the best ways to manage their demons, thereby making poor choices. Winslet’s character in particular is very open about her mental health issues, making it highly relevant. Given it’s Mental Health Awareness week, I can’t help but feel that the message of this movie, about talking about your problems and facing them with help from others is very important.

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