Review – Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

7y3eYvTsGjxPYDtSnumCLIMDkrVWelcome to Mind Control Month | Sci-Fi/Fantasy Week – Day 3. Just in case anyone’s wondering, I did review Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind before. You can read my other review written five years ago HERE. This, of course, was written before my current rating method, so the review will still be different than before, but most likely similar. Let’s go ahead and start off with the plot.

When Joel (Jim Carrey) meets a very colorful girl…literally…named Clementine (Kate Winslet), he immediately recognizes an attraction. Low and behold, the attraction is mutual. His calm and nice demeanor excited her while her strange and playful nature intrigued him, so they got into a relationship. Fast forward to the future, where something has happened in their relationship that caused it to fall apart, but we don’t know what. We then begin to watch backwards in time, memory for memory about what happened.  It was going backwards in time because at this point, Joel was erasing Clementine from his mind, one memory at a time.

Something goes screwy during the operation which separates Joel from his memories, and making him self-conscious of what’s happening, much like a lucid dream. Clearly, once he was self-aware, he began exploring good memories, making him want the procedure to be called off, but the problem was he was asleep…he couldn’t stop it. It was mostly about living in the moment, and trying your hardest to focus on the great things in life, and that no matter what happens, we just don’t have the ability to change who a person is inside, and any attempt to change that will fail.

– Original Review, Dave Examines Movies

The plot is so unique, so different, that only one man could’ve written this film – Charlie Kaufman. You’ve gotta love the visionary genius behind that man’s mind. Previously, I scored this film 98%, nearly perfect, but with very little faults. However, I couldn’t remember what faults those were when I watched this again, so I ventured forward to find out, and…I am still confused as to where I found faults before. My guess was if it was convoluted or not, and…it’s not, not really. As long as you pay attention, you’ll understand what’s going on just fine. 

I don’t know, but it’s time to really break down Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and interpret those stars!

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PEOPLE SCORE – 10/10
Acting – 2|Characters – 2|Casting – 2|Importance – 2|Chemistry – 2

Alright, guys. Everything in the people score was great. I truly believe that this film shows a massive amount of acting range for just about everybody, especially for Carrey and Winslet, though. The characters, in general, are very memorable and very diverse, that’s part of the entire point. Opposites attract, right? But it’s more than that. It is opposites attract but eventually have problems that they want to forget, but forgetting each other isn’t the end of the road for these two – which is insanely romantic, so yes, the chemistry is definitely apparent. I couldn’t really cast anyone else in any of the roles because even apart from the two leads, each character adds his or her oomph to the film. It needs everyone to tell the perfect story, which I’ll talk about next.

WRITING SCORE – 10/10
Dialogue – 2|Balance – 2|Story – 2|Originality – 2|Interesing – 2

Next up, we have another perfect score in the writing category, but considering the actual writer, I’m not surprised. The dialogue plays a pretty important part in the film. While I wouldn’t necessarily call it memorable all the time, it’s pertinent to the storyline when it came to how this couple met and ultimately fell apart. Communication is key, fellers. The balance is really what I was wondering about watching it this time, because a big part of the film does take place in reverse while another section takes place in forward motion, and those two happen simultaneously, but it’s completely understandable. They are erasing his memories of Clementine from his most recent to oldest memory. It’s brilliant pacing, really. Next up, we have the story itself, which is deeply meaningful on so many levels, I can’t even begin to explain. Completely original, and absolutely interesting. You just can’t take your eyes off the film!

BTS SCORE – 10/10
Visuals – 2|Directing – 2|Editing – 2|Advertisment – 2|Music – 2

Next up, we’re taking a look behind-the-scenes, and we are once again blown away by how in-depth the focus was in this film, scoring another perfect ten. The visuals are probably the first thing you’ll notice, and most of those mind-blowing visuals are actually practical. That, along with the expert camera work by the director and mixing dark and light imagery really make this a spectacle to experience. The editing works hand-in-hand with everything else, especially traveling from memory to memory. It’s unique and seamless. Definitely as-advertised, and even the music and sound editing is memorable. You know what movie you’re listening to if you’ve seen this film.

NARRATIVE ARC SCORE – 10/10
Introduction – 2|Inciting Incident – 2|Obstacles – 2|Climax – 2|Falling Action – 2

If you want a good example of a perfect narrative structure, look no further than Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The introduction has our two leads meeting and falling for each other before it skips time and they are breaking up. That’s the inciting incident, the crossing of the threshold is when Joel ultimately decides to forget Clementine from his memory. The obstacles come in dream-form, where he attempts to stop them from erasing his ex from his mind – lots of great stuff there. The climax is the culmination of everything else – brilliantly done, of course. Finally, the falling action and returning to a new norm is perhaps the most important part in the film. Everything was here.

ENTERTAINMENT SCORE – 10/10
Rewatchability – 2|Fun – 2|Impulse/Buy – 2|Impulse/Talk – 2|Sucks you in – 2

So, was this film entertaining? Like everything else, absolutely. This film is a masterpiece all around. It is incredibly rewatchable. Other than the times I watched it to review it, I’ve seen it many, many times. It’s also really fun just watch what’s happening on screen. I’m pretty sure this film is easily a treasure that people will definitely want to purchase to own. I also feel like people could easily have a strong impulse to tell others about this film if they’ve never heard about it before. It’s a movie that deserves to be experienced by everyone, if only once. Finally, it sucks you in from the first frame until the last, don’t lie.

SPECIALTY TOTAL – 50/50
Mind Control – 10|Sci-Fi – 10|Jim Carrey – 10|Romance – 10|Memory – 10

Finally, we are on to the specialty questions that I asked before seeing the film this time around. First and foremost, how does it fit into mind control month? Perfectly. If this isn’t about people controlling other people’s minds, I don’t know what is. Scientifically, it explains the process well-enough to be a perfect form of science fiction beyond our reach. As for Jim Carrey, I still believe this is his best film bar none. How was the romance angle? Well, it’s not your typical rom-com, it’s so much more. It may be all sci-fi and visuals, but there’s a seriously deep romantic notion in this film that’s hard not to ignore, definitely full points there. Finally, does it hold up to memory? Oh, shut up, of course it does.

TOTAL – 100/100

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