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Movie Review: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Alternate Title: 'I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair.'

Story: The idea that a person would be able to purge bad memories (romantic or otherwise) with a medical procedure rather than living through the depression and heartache that often accompanies life's ups and downs is treated ambitiously and with positive results in this film directed by music video pioneer Michel Gondry. With the growing talent of screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (Adaptation, Being John Malkevich, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind) we get a creative, visually stimulating and exciting ride via a very interesting premise. This screenplay is sort of like Charlie Kaufman 'lite.'

In a nonlinear story mode we learn that Joel and Clementine have broken up. She has taken the extreme measure of medically exorcising the memory of Joel from her mind so she could 'move on.' He follows suit and we get to go along on this rocky memory erasing ride. It is a simple love story treated with verve and excitement.

If you seek something a little different, take the plunge and enjoy a bit of sunshine.

The title comes from the writings of Alexander Pope:

How happy is the blameless vestal's lot!

The world forgetting, by the world forgot.

Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!

- Eloisa to Abelard, Alexander Pope (1688-1744)

Acting: This is Kate Winslet's film. She is one of my favorites and for once in a long while she manages to stay clothed during an entire film. Jim Carrey has a lot of talent and even though I thought he was good in this role I always thought he was going to break out into one of his manic modes. He did not and remained reserved and in character -- seemingly medicated during the film. Mark Ruffalo and Elijah Woods were adequate as the memory erasing technicians and Kirsten Dunst simply befuddles me. I have no idea how she manages to get more acting roles. She always looks drugged and is just awful.

Predilection: I like Charlie Kaufman and will see any project that involves him.

Critters: Some dogs and pigeons,

Food: Lots of food is consumed by the pot smoking technicians.

Visual Art: A buffet of visuals are displayed during some cool memory erasing modes. An R. Crump-like diary is kept by our main character, Joel.

Blatant Product Placement: Barnes and Noble Bookstores

Soundtrack: A fine soundtrack that matches the mood of the film and as credits roll you can hear Beck's 'Everybody's got to learn sometime.'

Opening Titles: The titles do not appear until some 20 minutes into the film.

Theater Audience: I was in my favorite local stadium seat theater. The film was playing in the theater that has the secret balcony. I was joined by three young men who apparently have learned about the 'not so secret anymore' balcony.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 3

Squirm Scale: 0

Predictability Level: I thought I knew where the film was headed but didn't bother with guessing and just relaxed and enjoyed the ride.

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: The jury is still out on this one.

Nit Picking: I HATE when a film is marketed as something it is not. This film is NOT a comedy yet the promos surely seem to imply that it is. Most likely because Jim Carrey is one of the stars they want you to think it is funny. This is a film about the heartache and despression of loss (which is not a laughable subject to anyone who has gone through it).

Big Screen or Rental: Go for the big screen. For some other Kate Winslet films (most of which she appears nude) try renting: Iris, Enigma, Quills, Holy Smoke, Hideous Kinky, (the dreadful) Titanic, Sense and Sensibility and my favorite, Heavenly Creatures.

Length: 110 minutes.

LOBO HOWLS: 7