6 May 2006 | mstomaso
It's OK (very OK)
Very nicely crafted science fiction love story. More of an experience than a film.
What? Sci Fi? Well yes. A simple science fiction device, memory erasure, is the vehicle for this beautifully shot, brilliantly edited and directed love fable. The fact that this is a good film does not disqualify it from the sci fi genre. In fact, would-be sci fi writers and film-makers should take note of this.
But Eternal Sunshine is a love story first and last, in all respects. The characters are what John Irving would call "L.A. dysfunctional", although they don't live in L.A. Carrey and Winslet are deeply insecure people with little going for them but good looks (which they try to disguise), fairly sweet dispositions, and a desire for companionship. They meet on Valentine's Day in Montauk, where they have both seemingly traveled 'on a lark', and the entire experience of the film seems to derail from this point forward. Chronological, linear story-telling becomes impossible because the characters are having their memories erased in order to assuage the pain of their separation. No spoilers, so let me stop right there.
If I have made Eternal Sunshine seem like it might be too much of a challenge or too disturbing for an evening's light entertainment, be not afraid. Certainly there are occasional disturbing elements, and the characters themselves are all neurotic enough to have walked off the street and onto the screen. But the film is so artistically rendered, and so well thought-out that what could have been a nightmare really becomes a fantastic post-modern love fable. It's also one of those great films that becomes predictable after a while, but is so delightfully portrayed and satisfying that it does not matter.
The acting is exceptionally good. I would expect nothing else from this cast. Winslet is especially remarkable for her ability to play a young North East American better than most American actresses could. How this genius has been passed up in each of her 4 Oscar nominations to date is inexplicable. Carrey's talent is undeniable, though I dislike many of the films he chooses to take on. His performance here is easily as good as his award-worthy performances in the Truman Show, Bruce Almighty, and Man on the Moon.
We spend a lot of time inside people's heads in this film, yet the camera never becomes a member of the cast as it does in films like "Being John Malkovich". I can pay no higher compliment to the production team. This is a very difficult thing to accomplish, and it is done with flawless simplicity in Eternal Sunshine. This film has just joined Shakespeare in Love, Wild at Heart, and Brokeback Mountain among my favorite all-time love stories. This is the first Michel Gondry film I have seen. I am going to make sure it is not the last.