I saw Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind last weekend. It’s a film that I completely missed when it was on release, and I think the few times I heard someone mention it I equated the title with a ‘feelgood’ or ‘life affirming’ movie that I wouldn’t enjoy.
But it got lots of mentions in end of year reviews and Simon Pegg, who wrote and directed Shaun of the Dead and was one of the creators of the genius TV comedy Spaced, put it on his list of top movies of 2004.
So I thought I’d give it a go, despite the fact it has Jim Carrey in the lead role. I’m not a fan of his at all, and I’ve found that potentially good movies have been spoilt with his casting. However, that’s a personal opinion that I know is at odds with most people, so what do I know?
Anyway. This film is not at all what I expected. It has the feel of a low budget European movie with lots of handheld camera work, a non-linear plot (that’s a poor description – you’ll find yourself wondering if you’ve missed a bit about 20 minutes in, and gradually things start to make sense, but so slowly that it’ll be half an hour after the film’s finished that you think ‘oh, I get it…’) and some great acting. Oh and Kirsten Dunst in her pants jumping up and down on a bed. And Kate Winslett finally playing a role that shows she can be a good actor. (I used to live near her – well, near where she used to live when she was growing up. If things had been different she could have divorced me; ah, fate).
Carrey is very good – occasionally he lapses into his usual goofiness but on the whole he comes across as a guy waiting for a good script. He’s a bit like Tom Hanks in that respect – another actor I disliked after his early films but who’s found salvation in good writing and good direction.
The plot is intriguing, and quite science fictiony at heart, but you wouldn’t know it when you’re watching it. I won’t give away too much but it will ring a bell for anyone who’s been in love, fallen out of love, wished you’d never met the other person, and then found yourself bumping into them in the bizarrest circumstances and doing it all over again.
A good film for a night in and a bottle of wine but it will surprise you I think, particularly if you’re expecting something like Bruce Almighty.