Saturday, 16 July 2011

eternal sunshine of a spotless mind

i always find jim carey's forays into serious acting to be very entertaining. like robin williams at around the same time, his landmark performance and subsequent outrageous oscar snub in the truman show served as a reminder that comedic actors don't neccesarily have to only be court jesters. here again, he takes up a more serious script, alongside staple dramatic actors such as kate winslet, and flourishes.

the film itself, a career high point for many involved, including director michel gondry and screenwriter charlie kaufman, essentially revolves around the question "is it better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all?" set in a world where targeted memory loss is a commercial service used to get rid of the memories of old exes, it follows carey's joel through this experience, erasing his memories of winslet's clementine.

the dynamics of this technology within society is also explored, as this internal storyline is combined with the external plot involving kirsten dunst, mark ruffalo, elijah wood and tom wilkinson. indeed, this larger view of the concept as a whole serves to beautifully compliment the much more intimate a-story.

i really should have reviewed this along with (500) days of summer. it covers similar ground, deconstructing the manic pixie dream girl trope (interestingly, this film plays the characters out as though the leads switched roles, with winslet playing up her energy and vitality, and carey almost unrecognisably understated) and providing a non-linear meditation on a relationship. here, unlike in (500) days of summer, however, the more serious treatment is helped along by a tangible threat, both in the frankly terrifying concept of memory loss and in the constantly pressing erasure of clementine as a person in joel's life. that this takes place in joel's mind allows the fear to be given shape in a huge number of gondry's visual setpieces. as the end looms, objects disappear, dimensions shift, and there even appears a faceless man, threatening to take away his loved one forever, who provides joel with an enemy to fight, even if it ultimately ends in his defeat. my only criticism is in how unrealistically this is portrayed - there is no stalkingburningcrushingtearingrippingkillingdyingmutilatinggaspingbludgeoningswallowinghatingfearingdisembowelingchokingscreamingbeggingrunninghidinghurtingbleeding



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