Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind 

First off the bat, I enjoyed this film very much, and it's another item for my list of evidence that it's been a very good year for films indeed. Jim Carrey is much better than I expected he would be, though it's perhaps unfortunate for him that, thanks to early films like Ace Ventura, I'll probably say that about every new film of his I see. Though for most actors it's a good idea to do popular stuff then branch out, he's so indelibly marked by those films that, for once, I really think it might have been better not to be famous first.

The film had something of the atmosphere and graininess of late '90s indie flicks like The Ice Storm and Buffalo 66. Being higher budget than those films, it also managed some beautiful landscape shooting. Beyond that, the concept of the film is a good one and it was well-executed. Carrey and Winslet, ex-lovers, decided to get their memories erased and gradually realise they don't want to do so, in the process proving that there's nothing simple about memories and emphasising something of the potential for abuse of such techniques. Importantly, the film's interest didn't hang too heavily on playing about with scene order - unlike 21 Grams, which in A-Z order would probably have been even more dire than it was.

I have some reservations, though. Both Winslet and Carrey are excellent in this, but a lot of the other actors leave something to be desired. The subplot of the film - the external scene of memory erasure and interaction between the people in the Lacuna firm - seems a bit 'tacked on' on general, and the end 'revelation' of that plot lacks interest to the same degree that the subplot itself does. Kirsten Dunst, who was really quite good in The Virgin Suicides, continues to prove herself otherwise endlessly disappointing and irritating. Mark Ruffalo's not much better (though low expectations mean he seems better), and I can honestly say I'd be the first to book a seat and Elijah Wood's public hanging.

Beyond that, the middle section of the film constantly treads a thin line between being good and being very painful to watch, as the action goes back to Carrey's childhood and you can see that the temptation is ever-present for the directors to allow him back into a few of his old wacky faces and gestures. I think it successfully stays on the right side of this line, but others might disagree.

Altogether I found it very decent. Not the best film of the year by any means, but thought-provoking and often quite fun.

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