Cult Classic: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
It's one of the weirdest yet most romantic films you're ever likely to see, so of course we had to induct Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind into our cult classics list.
It’s looking ever likely that neither actor Jim Carrey nor director Michel Gondry are going to scale the same cinematic heights of 2004 drama Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
These days a directionless Carrey is collecting paychecks for starring as a 3D Ebenezer Scrooge or sharing an apartment with CGI penguins, while Gondry’s distinctive style was nowhere to be found on last year’s Seth Rogen dud The Green Hornet.
Thankfully, it’s possible to see both stars at the height of the powers (for Carrey we mean this in his dramatic roles) with Eternal Sunshine, a film with the kind of imagination and daring which we wish for from our current multiplex offerings but so are regularly disappointed.
Carrey stars as Joel, a withdrawn thirtysomething who strikes up a romantic relationship with Kate Winslet’s Clementine (a typically great performance which is so much more than the usual ‘free spirit’ romantic female lead).
Unbeknownst to them, each are formers lovers who agreed to have their memories of one another erased following a nasty break-up. Granted, in today’s world of Facebook Timelines that may require a challenging amount of audiences’ suspension of disbelief but it’s rewarded to those that take the full leap into Gondry’s psychedelic stylings.
As so much of the movie takes place in Joel’s mind, struggling as he attempts to hold onto his memories of Clementine within his sleep as they are being erased, the film offers bewilderingly beautiful and gimmick-free aesthetics, free of CGI trickery. Unsurprisingly, the screenplay was written by the incomparable mind of Charlie Kauffman, who really should get together with director Gondry more often.
A brief mention must go the sterling work of Elijah Wood in one of the most effective and unsettling roles of his career and a film which is often overlooked. As one of the team hired to erase Clementine’s memories, Wood’s character of Patrick views Joel’s courtship of Clementine and begins to copy his moves, to rather irritatingly good effect. In any other film this would be a peripheral role but here it’s unseemly, despicable and gets audiences even further behind the dim hopes that Clementine and Joel give it another try.
Eternal Sunshine can be an exhausting, mind-bending watch for many audiences and it is without doubt one of the oddest romantic dramas Hollywood has ever created. Painful and joyous in equal amounts, what is surely under no argument is that it is also a true work of genius.
For more cult films, check out the Jameson Cult Film Club.