Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, or as I like to call it, Inception: the Romantic Comedy edition.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, or Eternal Sunshine for short, is about a man named Joel Barish, who meets a woman named Clementine, and after some romance, something happens that sends Joel on a mind-bending journey through his own mind. To explain upon the plot further would spoil one of the best elements of the film, but my opening line about it being the romantic comedy version of Inception is surprisingly true (not saying it is a rip-off since Eternal Sunshine came first).
Directed by: Michel Gondry
Genre: Mind Bender, Sci-Fi, Romance,
Release Date: March 19, 2004
Running Time: 109 minutes
MMPA rating: R
The Good: Jim Carrey actually shows acting range, Unique concept, Interesting spin on romance, Strong performances from All-Star cast, Kate Winslet's performance is excellent,
The Bad: "Forced Perspective" is not executed well, Falls into the clichéd sappiness of the romance genre at times,
Plot: 8.3/10- In terms of concept, Eternal Sunshine probably has the strongest and most unique concept of any film in the romance genre.
The best aspect of the film is easily the different direction it takes than most other films in the genre, and how it uses it concept. However, the science fiction element that is introduced is not explained at all, although that is not a big problem, yet the movie definitely had the clichéd indie feel when it comes to glossing over the details. Also, the movie's pacing could have been better. It dragged a bit with some side plots taking too much time. Despite having a very unique concept, some elements of the movie still fell into romance movie clichés with a few overly sappy moments. One aspect of the film that is often lauded by critics is themes, and since I have no personal experience, maybe that is why those parts did not appeal to me.
Characterization: 6.1/10- Even though the main character is fairly developed, you never care all that much for Joel, or his romantic interest, Clementine. All you really know about Clementine is that she is the exact opposite of the meek and timid protagonist. Her energetic character is appealing at times, but that is about it. However, the conflict and drama between some of the side characters work.
Acting: 8.9/10- Eternal Sunshine's all-star cast features, Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood, and Tom Wilkinson, all of whom give top notch performances. Jim Carrey is particularly noteworthy for playing a different role than his usual wacky type character.
Special effects: 7.2/10- Despite the low budget, Eternal Sunshine's special effects hold up fairly well. One scene that uses the concept of "Forced Perspective," which is when the set and camera is used in a way to make certain people and things look smaller than they actually are without the use of CGI, is not executed well. An excellent example of the technique is the Lord of the Rings, which used the technique to make the Hobbits look smaller than Gandalf during some scenes.
Soundtrack: 6.2/10- Jon Brion's score, which also features licensed music, works well enough, but it rarely adds to the film.
Humor: 6.2/10- Although the movie is sometimes listed as a "Drama/Comedy," it is certainly more drama than comedy, which is not necessarily bad, but the viewer needs to be aware of this fact.
Entertainment Value: 7.0/10- Due to some pacing issues, Eternal Sunshine felt like it was dragging a bit unnecessarily. However, the unique premise did redeem several factors of the movie, thus increasing the entertainment value.
Overall: 7.5/10- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is an incredibly unique take on the romance genre in concept, yet it still falls into a few of the genre's clichés. Despite these flaws, it is one of the best in the live-action romance genre, largely thanks the concept and strong performances.
Closing comments: Even though I can partially see why it is lauded as a modern classic, since it is one of the best of the genre, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind's lack of character investment prevented me from holding so highly.
Recommended for: Jim Carrey fans, Romance fans, Sci-Fi fans, Mind Bender fans,
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