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Charlie Kaufman


While The Ladykillers ultimately fell well short of expectations, I thought Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind lived up to the hype and then some. One part Annie Hall, one part Sliding Doors, three parts Charlie Kaufman, Eternal Sunshine is an exceptionally strange take on the romantic comedy, and probably the best flick by the screenwriter in question since Being John Malkovich. (It probably helped that I tend to be a fan of almost all the folks at work here, particularly Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Tom Wilkinson, Mark Ruffalo, Elijah “Bad Frodo” Wood, and David Cross.) While the movie occasionally lapses into gratuitous symbolism (The “lost and gone forever” name “Clementine,” for instance) and hokey pop psychology (All of the Carrey-as-baby scenes were done more quickly and effectively in the Cameron Diaz-Catherine Keener chase scene through Malkovich’s brain), Sunshine is a fun, thought-provoking look at relationships and memory, and one that definitely holds together better than Gondy and Kaufman’s last collaboration, Human Nature.

I don’t want to say too much about Eternal Sunshine, as I think it’s probably a movie best enjoyed fresh. But just to give a sense of where my own brain was at during the film, there’s a scene near the end where Joel and Clementine are talking in a Barnes & Noble, and as they chat the books around them slowly lose their color and titles, until they’re all just blank. I think this scene unnerved me more than any other in the film…I wanted to shout, “Not until Thursday! Just remember them until Thursday!” Until then, I’d like to keep my mind as spotted as possible, thank you very much.

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