Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) is a retiring, shy, individual who seems ill at ease with life. Confused and unhappy with his lot, Barish impulsively decides to take a train north to Montauk, rather than the train to work. While there he meets Clementine Kruczynski (Kate Winslet) whereupon, after a few false starts, they begin to become a couple. Somewhere along the line they have an argument and Clementine decides to have her memory erased. When they next meet, Barish is faced with an ex love with no memory of him. Eternal Sunshine is about relationships and how they mature; how, as we become accustomed to one another, that initial spark can become taken for granted, only to be replaced by our foibles and less desirable habits.
This first quarter of an hour or so may sound like an uninteresting sickly love story. However, Eternal Sunshine is anything but. As the movie progresses it takes on a surreal edge and you wonder about what is going on in Barish's mind. Look out for the “chase scenes” where Barish hides within his deep thoughts, or Patrick and his love interest. In fact the whole directorial angle is nearly flawless: looking, sounding and feeling real, never something so vitiated as a movie with actors in it. This unflinchingly candid perspective Michel Gondry presents us with imbues Eternal Sunshine with a truly romantic flair without becoming that cloying work we feared.
Some people won't watch this movie because of Jim Carrey. You would be wrong, as Jim Carey is truly amazing. Anyone who has seen The Truman Show (and to a lesser extent Man on the Moon) will know Carrey is a very good character actor, not just a loud OTT comic. His performance is knitted so well with Kate Winslet you believe that all the subtle nuances they expose are because they are a genuine couple in real life. Look at the little dance Winslet performs prior to accepting a lift from Barish, for example. This isn't to say the other actors are without merit, Tom Wilkinson and Elijah Wood in particular shine. The whole cast provide a truly believable mise-en-scene against which, toward the end of the movie, the fluctuating mind of Barish wouldn't otherwise become so endearing.
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