Movie Review by Toby White
Starring: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood, Tom Wilkinson
Director: Michel Gondry
Every few years in Hollywood there comes along a film that stands out from anything we’ve ever seen. Always an independent picture (because we know the studios would never back the risk) it blasts onto the cinema scene announcing the arrival of new talent. Think Spielberg. Think Tarantino. Think Nolan (yes, MEMENTO is the film I’m thinking of). There has not, however, been a movement, a “new wave” if you will, since, well, the French new wave of the 1950s – unless you count Spielberg, Coppola, De Palma et al in the 1970s – until now. Here’s why: remember BEING JOHN MALKOVICH? So weird it was wonderful? We’d be mistaken for thinking that was a one off but it was so off the wall it couldn’t be imitated. But Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman were just getting warmed up. ADAPTATION followed. Also their other like-minded collaborators were joining the fray…enter one Michel Gondry. Following a dry run by the name of HUMAN NATURE, the Kaufman and Gondry collaboration have let loose ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND.
In a nutshell: Carrey and Winslet are in a relationship. They break up. She gets him erased from her memory. He’s wounded by this rejection and does the same (there’s a place that does this procedure, see). Then they meet again as if for the first time.
I will admit I wasn’t particularly enamored with the line-up or the pitch when I first heard about it. The other Kaufman-penned pictures made me feel that I needed to be in the right mood to see this film. Especially since it had Jim Carrey in it. Then a friend told me it was one of the coolest films she’d seen in years and she wanted to see it again immediately. Another bad sign. Anyone who goes on about a film like that gets your hopes up and by the time you see it it’s bound to disappoint. But she told me it featured a diner we ate at in Montauk on Long Island when I visited New York two years ago. So I thought I’d go and see the film. I was hooked from the opening sequence. It’s one of those films that’s just cool. Scene after scene just had me smiling at the cleverness of the idea. I know what critics would say; that it’s a self-indulgent, insubstantial one-trick pony – since the significant middle section is simply Carrey’s memories being erased – but that’s precisely the point. For the basic idea alone, this film is inspired and inventive and intriguing and dozens of other adjectives beginning with ‘i’. Gondry’s also achieved something hitherto considered impossible in Hollywood: he’s made a beautiful love story, a genuine feel-good movie…without an ounce of saccharine in sight.
I can’t wait to see what the next new wave will conjure up next.