‘Sunshine’ is spotlessly funny treat

    “”Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” is a flawed film. Some of the dialogue just doesn’t work, the characters are inconsistent, the acting can be awkward, and the film’s ambitions overreach its means. But the joy of watching this extraordinary group of people try to make something grand elevates what could have been (and sometimes is) a mess into something more than a film. It’s an experience just to witness it.

    Courtesy of Focus Features

    Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman created wildly innovative scripts with “Being John Malkovich” and “Adaptation.” This is his second collaboration with director Michel Gondry of White Stripes and Björk video fame (the first was the mostly forgotten “Human Nature”). They don’t so much hit the nail on the head as hammer around it, finding new ways of presenting familiar themes.

    At its core, “Eternal Sunshine” is a love story. Jim Carrey plays Joel, a man so shy and subdued you’ll completely forget he is being played by “Bruce Almighty.” Carrey excels at the role, infusing Joel with heart underneath the stoic surface. His foil comes in the form of the erratic, bohemian Clementine (a wild but tender Kate Winslet). Their odd pairing is as unexpected as it is compelling. The two characters bounce off each other perfectly, butting heads and presenting as real a relationship as you’ll see onscreen. Carrey and Winslet perfectly portray the characters’ underlying vulnerabilities and love in spite of the difficulties they face.

    When their relationship withers, Clementine has her memory of Joel erased from her mind. A frustrated Joel opts for the same operation but soon after realizes he loves Clementine too much to lose his memories of her. Tom Wilkinson (of “In the Bedroom”) underplays his role as Dr. Howard Mierzwaik, the man responsible for the operations. He and his team (Kirsten Dunst, Mark Ruffalo and Elijah Wood) scramble to ensure that the failing operation goes according to plan while their own stories intertwine with those of the comatose Joel.

    The film’s innovative special effects, from showing memories vanish piece by piece to digitally disfigured faces of characters being erased from Joel’s memory, are always remarkable. The scenes of memory-removal are often hilarious as Joel and Clementine run through Joel’s buried childhood memories when Joel is forced to relive his most embarrassing moments.

    Gondry uses digital special effects in moderation, instead relying on such trickery as light refraction and making characters actually have to run around and play different versions of themselves within the same scene. You’d never know by watching it; it’s usually smooth rather than clunky. But the end result of Gondry’s deviousness comes through — the film maintains a manic energy that is entirely infectious.

    It doesn’t matter that Kaufman reuses some ideas from his “Malkovich” script, namely that of creating a window into another person’s mind. The film bears little of the disturbing tone of “Malkovich.” Instead, it is a playful-yet-emotional journey that never feels heavy or preachy. Kaufman’s fantastical ideas and Gondry’s unconventional approach to filmmaking are entirely approachable without losing their trademark idiosyncrasies. Don’t let the artsiness of “Eternal Sunshine” drive you away. A film this daring and unforgettable is a rarity.

    More to Discover
    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $200
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal

    Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $200
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal