i had my reservations about this film. despite the fact that many people call it a charlie kaufman film, it's actually a michel gondry film, and he made human nature, which wasn't very good. kaufman, by the way, wrote the script for that film, too. now, the film didn't suck in a big way, but at the end, you certainly couldn't argue that it was good. it wasn't.
but you know, many people said eternal sunshine of the spotless mind was fantastic. people called it ground breaking and amazing and (in a comment that has stuck in my head) raw. the problem, of course, with such comments, is that a film can't possibly live up to these expectations: eternal sunshine of the spotless mind isn't groundbreaking, isn't mind numbing, and didn't leave me raw. but: i did enjoy it quite a lot, and i do think it's a fine film.
it deals with a couple, played exceptionally well by jim carrey and kate winslet, who decided to have each other wiped from their memory by a mind wiping procedure. perhaps the finest line is uttered by tom wilkinson in relation to this concept, when joel (carrey) asks if there will be any damage, and he replies, 'well, the procedure is essentially about damaging your brain.'
from here, the film follows a tour through joel's mind, tracking the emotional state of someone after a breakup. painful memories first, nice ones later, then that little bit of something you hold onto at the end, which, as seen in the first fifteen minutes of the film, convinces both joel and clementine (winslet) to go to a cold beach, where they will meet again. this, of course, introduces the statement of the film: that we are doomed to repeat the same mistakes if we simply toss away everything we learnt from our previous relationship.
at least, that's what i view the statement of the film is. i could also go with: there's someone for everyone, and that some people are just meant to be together.
but, in the end, i lean towards the first statement, since that seems to me to be the point of the film. most of the film is dedicated to joel and clementine's tour through joel's memories, looking for a place to hide, digging into his mind, into their arguments, and laying down the bones of what went wrong in the two of them. to go with the second statement, you have to play up elijah wood's character and his obsession with clementine more than the film does. but it's there, since he does steal joel's memories and possessions to move in on clementine as a fake joel, intent on being him for all intents and purposes, except, of course, that clementine doesn't take to it. and, with that, kirsten dunst's character arc really supports the first statement within the film.
still, i enjoyed myself, and the film, though there are two things, in the end, that let the film down (just a little) for me:
the first is that the whole crawling through someone's mind and digging into their psyche is not a new idea. we were introduced to that in being john malkovich, and in a few places, eternal sunshine of the spotless mind does echo that earlier kaufman scripted film. but still, the end result is something much different, and it isn't, in the end, a problem.
the end of the film, however, was a bit disappointing. i can't tell what exactly it is that disappointed me, except that it felt like a fizzle, like everyone had got to the end of the film, and was standing in a narrow hallway, looking at each other, and said, 'well, what do we do now?'