#1 – “ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF
THE SPOTLESS MIND” (2004)
Directed by Michel Gondry
Whether we’re simply trying to remember where we put last night’s lottery ticket or desperately trying to forget an unsuccessful past romance our memories can, and always will, be the most fragile of friends. For where one may suddenly ignite in an incandescent display of clarity another may equally fade into half remembered shadows and stubbornly refuse to budge. So imagine then if we were offered the opportunity to erase our unwanted memories and simply drag and drop them into a kind of cerebral trash bin.
It’s this very premise that Charlie Kaufman so memorably explores with his superb screenplay for “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”, a film that fuses Kaufman’s exemplary grasp of screenwriting with Michel Gondry’s divine display of directorial panache before mixing in career best performances from Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet and serving us a film that more than earns it’s place atop my list of all time favourite romantic movies.
As mind-bogglingly confusing and deliriously inventive as it is heartbreakingly poignant and bewitchingly romantic it’s a testament to both cast and crew that the film never falls apart amidst its labyrinthine narrative.
Setting the majority of the film inside the head of Joel Barish affords Gondry the opportunity to both amaze and delight with an array of awe-inspiring visual techniques that he gleefully employs in order to represent the gradual disintegration of Joel’s fondest memories.
Eclipsing even his standout turn in Peter Weir’s “The Truman Show” Carrey delivers a delicately layered performance as Joel that eschews his usual pantomime theatrics in favour of a far more restrained and subtle performance that pulses with pain, regret, sadness, fragility, hope, loss and, of course, love. For as Joel’s memories slowly begin to crumble so too does he begin to experience the unmistakable rush of romance all over again as he relives past moments in his time with the seemingly unforgettable Clementine and discovers that whilst not all his memories are necessarily blissfully happy ones there are still a great deal that just might be worth holding onto after all.
And with Joel’s object of affection, his darling Clementine, played by the divine Kate Winslet the film soars to even greater heights with Winslet delivering what, for me, is one of her greatest roles to date as a true free spirit, an untamed heart and a girl as wildly colourful as her ever changing hairstyle. It’s Winslet that ultimately provides the film with its true heart and lends the film a beautifully nuanced core round which to stage the action.
As the film progresses ever further into memory the audience will surely be rooting for Joel to hold onto these last few precious memories and whilst the conclusion may not offer up the archetypal happy ending it does, however, end on a note of hopeful ambiguity that acts as the perfect counterbalance to the preceding events.
Praise should also be afforded to the wonderful supporting cast that includes Kirsten Dunst, Elijah Wood, Mark Ruffalo and Tom Wilkinson. And whilst a subplot involving Dunst and Wilkinson may appear somewhat unnecessary and superfluous amidst the chaos the film certainly never suffers as a result.
“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” is, quite simply, a bona-fide masterpiece and a film I will never cease to be amazed by. Brimming with creativity, visual flair, consummate acting and a stunning screenplay it resonates with the kind of warmth, passion, energy, charm, spirit and heart that only a truly great romantic movie can possibly possess. That it does so whilst simultaneously sending my brain into paroxysms of delight with its superbly structured screenplay is but another reason why I recommend it so enthusiastically, so fervently and so damn passionately. It’s a film about an unforgettable love that truly reminds me why I love films themselves and for this reason alone deserves to be seen by everyone.
“You can erase someone from your mind”, quotes the movie tagline, “Getting them out of your heart is another story” Similarly “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” is certain to find a place in yours. Quite simply unforgettable …
“How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot! / The world forgetting, by the world forgot /Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind! / Each pray’r accepted, and each wish resign’d.”
Track #14 – “EVERYBODY’S GOTTA LEARN SOMETIME”
Written by James Warren
(Performed by Beck)
And so it is that we reach the end of this most passionate of pilgrimages and take time to reflect upon the past two weeks. You’ll no doubt agree it’s been quite the fantastic voyage and one that has seen us travel the world Tokyo to Vienna, Wisconsin to Wyoming, Hawaii to New Jersey, New Zealand to Minnesota and Montmartre to Montauk before being flung back in time to the 16th Century and forwards again to the distant future. It’s seen us journey inside both our memories and our wildest dreams not to mention our darkest desires and witness love in a multitude of forms including unrequited, unexpected, unchronological, forbidden, forgotten and fleeting. And, lest we forget, it’s also allowed us to spend time with fourteen truly memorable couples.
And so, on that note, it leaves me only to wish everyone out there a most glorious Valentine’s Day from Barry and Lena, Jarrod and Lily, Stéphane and Stéphanie, Ennis and Jack, Lars and Bianca, Amélie and Nino, Lee and Edward, Holden and Alyssa, Juno and Paulie, Tommy and Izzi, Tom and Summer, Jesse and Celine, Bob and Charlotte and Joel and Clementine …
… oh, and of course from ‘lil ‘ole me!
“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”
MOULIN ROUGE (2001)