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Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (2003)
Director: Michael Gondry

review by Debbie Moon

Geeky Joel (Jim Carrey) still longs for his lost love, free spirit Clementine (Kate Winslet): but when he tracks her down and tries to make up with her, she seems to think she's never met him before. In fact, she's had a radical new treatment pioneered by Dr Mierzwiak, which has eradicated all memory of their whirlwind relationship from her mind. In a fit of pique, Joel decides to undergo the same treatment: why should he struggle with his unhappy memories of their break-up, if she doesn't have to?

However, thanks to two incompetent technicians - one of whom is exploiting the process to pickup girls by learning their likes and dislikes from deleted memories - the process goes wrong. Joel decides to fight to save his diminishing memories of Clementine and her effect upon his life - but how do you fight a battle inside your own head? On the run through his remembered life, Joel realises the fight may be hopeless - but out in the real world, there's just a glimmer of a chance to make things right...

Yes, it's another slice of mind-bending Charlie Kaufman lunacy. But this is a very much more mature and emotionally moving film than Kaufman's previous work. Adaptation and Being John Malkovich were brilliant movies, but essentially they were satires, exaggerating human folly for comic effect. Eternal Sunshine is perhaps Kaufman's first movie about real human beings, a film that shows the real dangers and drawbacks of using technology to wipe all pain out of our lives. Michel Gondry's inventive direction serves the deliberately disordered story extremely well, complex but rarely confusing, making inventive use of the memories and dreamscapes being steadily erased from Joel's head. There are terrific performances, notably from Tom Wilkinson as Dr Mierzwiak, and a subplot that broadens the issue beyond this one broken relationship, complement Carrey and Winslet's understated and believable romance. It may be an old, even a predictable, story, and a quirk of storytelling makes the ending obvious from an early stage, but this is still an intelligent and engaging film that's well worth tracking down.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

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