Magnolia E.D.W. Mulqueen/June 4th 2016 — The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, directed by John Gondry is a movie that one going into watch blindly would believe is surely a comedy. Seeing as to how it has Jim Carrey cast as the main character, and it also features that guy from Alvin and the Chipmunks who looks like an egg, surely it must be some sort of lazily written family-type comedy with an extremely low budget, lots of product placement and unexplainably high box office ratings. However, the film itself begins with a dramatic monologue by Jim Carrey’s character, Joel, about why Valentines Day is a holiday made by greeting card companies and is awful for people who are single, it sets a very jaded angsty tone for the rest of the movie.
Now this movie is what we in the biz call “a frame story,” which basically just means that the story begins at the end, goes back to the beginning to show you how we got to the end. It’s an extremely common way to write a story, it’s used in many classics such as Their Eyes Were Watching God, and The Emperor’s New Groove. This story executes the method slightly differently though, starting at the end, going back to the beginning, taking you back to a different part of the end, working backward to even earlier in the beginning. In the beginning (which is the end), there is Joel, the aforementioned angry single guy, Joel meets Clementine on a train, a girl who looks like she’s 25, acts like she’s 16, but we really don’t know how old she is. The two of them hit it off, obviously, and they maybe end up having sex? It’s hard to say, but they at least went on some sort of date.
Flash back, to maybe a couple weeks earlier, surprise! The two of them actually totally dated,but they had a fight, so Clementine decides that instead of allowing herself to grow and learn from this relationship, she fully erases Joel from her mind, which is a thing you can do in this universe (never is there even like a lazily explained pseudoscience thrown in about how or why it works, it just does), Joel finds out about this after he tries to apologize and he sees Clementine getting all cozy with this young guy, and acting like she didn’t know who he was.
So because Joel is a petty little bitch he decides that the only thing to do is to also get the memory erase procedure done, so then he won’t remember Clementine either. This is when we get thrown back to the end, and we get to see all the memories play out, understand the relationship, why it went wrong, how things could have been prevented, etc.
Personally, I found the movie confusing. Of course, I fully understand the plot, the message, but it felt rather diluted, all over the place, like the writer focused too much on certain parts of the story, and through other plot points in half-heartedly. I am aware that if too much was added the movie would have been far too long to sit through, but I’m also aware that there are other characters in the movie, with stories significant to the plot that get skimmed over. I think time was wasted during certain parts of the movie. I for one did not need to see a full grown Jim Carrey dressed and acting like a toddler for a whole scene and a half. If I wanted that I could watch any other movie with Jim Carrey in it. Honestly, that whole part was confusing, the concept makes sense, but it could have and should have been executed differently.
Overall, I’d give the movie 3 1\2 stars. Not bad, but not quite brilliant. Really it felt like the rough draft of an amazing film.