02 March 2007

Eternal Sunshine ... a review

NZBlogPhoto8-2007-03-2-04-00.jpeg Every Friday someone screens a movie they love and talks about it. This week Sophie screened “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and wrote a brilliant review, which she kindly lets me publish below. read on:
I chose this film because it is one of my all time favourite films. When I came out of the cinema I was inspired. I wanted to be able to make films like that. I thought it was clever, strange, but over all brilliant, it’s one of those films that makes you go ‘ohhhhh’ half-way through when you realise what’s actually going on. It challenges you to think about what you’re watching; you cannot be a passive observer mindlessly starring at the moving images in front of you. It successfully mixes genres of drama romance comedy and sci-fi into one well-crafted film, a rarity in filmmaking. It follows the classic plain boy meets quirky girl, boy and girl like each other, boy loses girl then boy gets girl and twists it completely. If we were to put the film in chronological order it starts at near the end of the film and goes backwards through the character of Joels memories showing his and Clementine’s relationship end to beginning, and then beginning again. The film is essentially about relationships. The tagline reads ‘You can erase someone from your mind. Getting them out of your heart is another story’. We see Clementine and Joel both make impulsive decisions to erase each other from their memory, neither taking the time to realize what they were doing, or how they really felt until it was too late to get the memories back. But what is not realized by the scientists or the characters is that emotion runs much deeper than just memory. It is a part of us and is in our subconscious. We see this during the relationship between Patrick and Clementine. She freaks out when Patrick imitates Joel and his words. She doesn’t understand why the words are affecting her so much, but we know it’s because they are triggering the love she has for Joel. This subconscious feeling is how Joel and Clementine are able to meet again. They are both drawn back to Montauk, the place where they met and fell in love. Love for a person is imbedded in their subconscious. This is also shown in the subplot relationship of Howard and Mary. Even though Mary had all memory of their relationship erased, this didn’t stop her from feeling the way she did about him. This also gives more explanation to why Clementine and Joel are drawn back to each other. They are in love; they just don’t realize it. The film was directed be Michel Gondry and combined many elements not seen before. It shows a romance but combined with the reverse narrative and the sci-fi element of memory erasure makes the film very innovative. Michel Gondry, who also did my one of my favourite music videos ‘Everlong’ by the Foo Fighters, has also directed music videos for the Rolling Stones, Radiohead, Lenny Kravitz, White Stripes, Chemical Brothers, Kanye West, Daft Punk, Gary Jules and even directed Steriograms ‘Walkie Talkieman’. He got his start in making music videos and also commercials and has gone on to make eight feature films, eternal sunshine being his fifth. Not only is he a director, he is a cinematographer, producer, actor, musician and writer. He co-wrote Eternal Sunshine with Pierre Bismuth and Charlie Kauffman, with Charlie Kauffman doing the screenplay that is known for Adaptation and Being John Malkovich. I think the script is beautifully written. I love lines like “sand is overrated it’s just tiny little rocks” and “Valentines day is a holiday invented by greeting card companies to make people feel like crap”. The thought of writing a script like that overwhelms me. It is as fresh and original as some of his other screenplays, but adds a romantic depth that is unlike any other. He chooses to dazzle us with the complexities of the human mind and all of its glorious possibilities. He is a master storyteller. Ellen Kuras is the cinematographer. I think one of the most beautiful scenes is the one at the parade, which I later found out was shot spontaneously. They heard the parade was on so decided to go down and shoot something; it ended up working well, so they used it. She is able to create an atmospheric, almost surreal feeling to the film, and often uses smoke in the room to create warmth as it captures the light of the room. She has falsely created a feeling of early morning as the sun hits the smoke comes through the window in beams. This is one of my favourite scenes with Clem and Joel in their bedroom under the duvet. This and the use of close ups under the duvet gives it such an intimate feeling. Some techniques I would like to try out in my films. The special effects are by Mark Bero, Brent Elkstrand and Drew Jirianto. They are well integrated to show each of Joel’s memories being erased. We see it starting to deconstruct with cars crashing from the sky, locations merging into one, for example when we see Joel at the library, then the library shuts down as he exits into Rob and Carrie’s house. We see faces distorted, people and objects fade and disappear, and houses collapse. All of these effects make it believable and feasible that we are truly seeing a persons memory being erased. We are also able to clearly distinguish between the memory erasing scenes and the real time of the film. I thought the music in the film was also very effective; the original music was by Jon Brion. Oddly it was in some parts where there was dialogue and then not used in the silences in between. The music selected helps to give the film a quirky off beat type of feeling. It also helps with the flow of the film; linking the memory scenes to the real time of the film with aural bridges. The performances of Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey are fantastic. Both are breaking out of some form of type casting with these roles. Kate Winslet, who before this often was cast in period pieces plays the arty eccentric type, normally a role associated with Jim Carrey but in this film he is the quieter, far more reserved of the two. Kate Winslet was even nominated for a Academy award for her role. The film earned two Academy award nominations, the second for best screenplay and won it. The film achieved critical success. It was nominated for 48 awards and won 32 of them. The film also achieved relative success at the box office: it cost 20 million to make, and made 34 million from the US alone, which was at least doubled by the international audience. This film has left a strong impression on me, every time I see it if find something that I hadn’t seen before. I think it is original, clever, witty, and sweet. After watching it I found the genres of film I wanted to keep watching. I felt like I had found my taste in film.

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