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Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

You can erase someone from your mind. Getting them out of your heart is another story. 

Year: 2004 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by Michel Gondry 
Starring: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst  
An image from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Joel Barish (Carrey) is a shy, introverted man. He lives a boring life, where work alternates with sleep. One morning he wakes up with a strange feeling. Instead of taking the train to work, his impulses lead him to taking one to Long Island. Walking on the beach he meets a strange blue haired girl with a bright orange sweatshirt - Clementine (Winslet). They fall in love. And then Clementine gets Joel erased from her mind.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is not an ordinary film, not only because the opening credits only start to roll twenty minutes into the film. It’s a romantic drama free of romantic drama clichés, crafted around an intertwining, non-linear plot unlike anything you have seen before. It’s a film polished with great care and passion, allowing the audience to appreciate the amount of consistent little details that this film has to display.

Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet are superb in this film. Both of them play completely different personalities but at the same time manage to create a subtle bond between their characters. Speaking of Jim Carrey, if you ever doubted whether he is able to play a serious role that doesn’t involve crazy grimaces, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is the best proof of his talent so far. And fine proof it is indeed.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is nothing you would expect from a romantic drama. It’s much more than that. Come with an empty mind, and you’ll have heaps to take away.

Linas Trumpickas

Once again, screenwriter Charlie Kaufman provides us with an intelligent, thought-provoking story. Kaufman brought us Being John Malkovich, Adaptation and Human Nature. This time, he asks us what would we do if we had the technology to erase bad past experiences from our minds, even entire relationships. Would our lives be better? Is ignorance bliss? Or are we shaped by the memories and experiences of our existence? Do they truly shape who we are?

The story is a complicated tale. Joel Barish (Carrey) seems like the average guy who remains in isolation from his true feelings to others and yet reveals spectacular insight to his diary. He doesn't act on impulses or gut feelings but relies on common sense and logic until he meets Clementine (Winslet). They flirt and find themselves falling in love? That is until one day Joel finds out that Clementine has taken part in a procedure to erase him from her memories because she was so unhappy.

Surprisingly, this low budget independent film carries an impressive amount of A-list actors and manages to have them perform well beyond that expected of them. Jim Carrey, who had an unsuccessful attempt at drama with Man on the Moon, plays the lead role of Joel straight, instead of his usual wacky delivery and gives his most human performance, and in my opinion his best. Kate Winslet, playing Clementine, the girlfriend Joel wants to either love or forget, is wacky, colourful and hilarious – it's as if the two actors have been reversed to great effect.

Jonathan Downing

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Screenings of this film:

2004/2005 Autumn Term (35mm)
2004/2005 Autumn Term (35mm)
2006/2007 Spring Term (35mm)
2010/2011 Spring Term (35mm)
2023/2024 Autumn Term (digital)