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41. EMPIRE MAGAZINE GREATEST: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

July 26, 2018

Director: Michel Gondry
Screenplay: Charlie Kaufman
Starring: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood, Tom Wilkinson
Runtime: 108 Minutes

 

Original UK Release: 2004

 

★★★★★

 

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is an example of what happens when there is a perfect marriage of the abilities and aspirations of both director and screenwriter. A Science-Fiction Romantic Dramedy, it’s an indefinable love story that starts with the bile at the end of a tortured relationship, but then works back and wraps itself around fragments of memory for warmth in the absence of sensation.

 

The direction from Michel Gondry grants the film a spectacular visual language through the composition of frames and intertwining sets, eclectic special effects – most of which were accomplished in camera – and a flowing sense of melodic pace through some ingenious editing choices to accomplish its mosaic structural design. His blending of the science-fiction world with mundanity and business practice of human interaction is incredibly absorbing.

 

Charlie Kaufman’s screenplay is one of the greatest he’s ever produced. Maintaining much of the cerebral wordplay and manifested surrealism that he has become known for, but applying into to something infinitely more relatable and human than anything in his previous work. The intimacy of the story derives from the nature of memories, and how they are so important to our personal growth without realising, and how much we should appreciate all of our life experiences – even the bad ones.

 

The performances from its wide cast of indie and well-established are universally excellent and against type, with Jim Carrey delivering a heartbreakingly nuanced performance and Kate Winslet’s wonderful portrayal as a damaged free spirit. Elijah Wood, Kirsten Dunst, Mark Ruffalo and Tom Wilkinson bring a great deal of sympathy to their understandable positions in the story.

 

Jon Brion’s pleasingly simple score is beautiful, its soundscape is breathtaking, and yet its heart is humble, earnest and tender to the touch. This is one of the 21st century’s first great masterpieces.

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