25 Favorite Films: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

If there is one film that hits too close to home its Michel Gondry’s masterpiece. Granted, I did not get involved with a memory wiping company and lost the love of my life. But the emotional pain Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) goes through is so damn real despite the sci-fi elements involved. Not to get too personal but I fell in love with someone that is very similar to who Clementine (Kate Winslet) was. It was never meant to be but at the time I did not rationalize the failed romance as I did today. In fact this film came out very close to the time where this crush of mine made it very clear how she did not feel the same way. So you better believe this movie hit me emotionally at the time.

What makes this movie work is how Charlie Kaufman balances a brutal romance story and over the top sci-fi. Come to think of it this is very much in the vein of his earlier film with Being John Malkovich. I mean at one point two characters literally go into someone’s subconscious as they chase/argue with each other in the background. But by using these fantastical elements Kaufman tells a lot about how tough it is to maintain a relationship when it isn’t perfect. It certainly helps to have Kate Winslet be involved as Clementine. She adds a level of realism and honesty to the role that got her nominated for many awards including a BAFTA and an Oscar at the time.

But I want to talk about Jim Carrey for a second. Cause these are the kind of films that he should be doing and not the garbage comedies he HAS been doing since this. Along with The Truman Show he shows his range as an actor and proves he can tone down his comedic chops and be a believable, dramatic actor. When I watch this film I see a guy with a broken heart and not someone who is going to make a distorted face and fart at the same time. If he does go for a bit of comedy then it is earned through the script and scenes like him pretending to be a little baby works in that regard. It annoys me to no end how Carrey has abandoned these kind of films because this clearly should have evolved him to a higher plain instead of seeing him slumming it in Dumb and Dumber To.

This movie has a cult following despite the accolades it earned in 2004. (It won an Oscar for Best ORIGINAL Screenplay which might be the most adapt adjective to describe this film.) I’m curious to how much of the cult loves this film in the way I do. Cause, again, at the time this was released when I was emotionally suffering through a really bad….well not even a breakup but just a bad time involving the opposite sex. Honestly this would be a good film to watch if you are in the same mindset now. Maybe there isn’t a company that can help erase your memories of the bad times. But there is a movie that can show you, no matter how fantastical it is, that everything will be okay in the end.

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