Thursday, April 13, 2006

Eternal Sunshine of a spotless mind - Movie Review

The title and its connection to the storyline piqued my curiosity because at the time I watched the movie I really did not pay attention to that part about the poem “Eloisa and Abelard” by Alexander Pope. Is this the idea behind the title? “Ignorance is Bliss”? And if you are not in a position to ignore it, try by all means to forget it ?

Well after writing those lines I proceeded to read the poem… and was taken completely by it. I suggest everyone to read it.

The poem in short:
The story in the poem is about a love affair between a mature man and a much younger and intelligent woman. Abelard and Eloisa fell in love. Abelard had difficulties in committing. Eloisa is forced to become Abelard’s secret wife or give up her love. Eloisa had strong connections… people who did not take to the former arrangement pleasantly and they did the unmentionable to Abelard. A and E break-up and took to the church to drown their sorrows. Abelard became a monk and Eloisa a nun.

Their love affair ended there, or so you would think. The reminiscences of the two erstwhile lovers, their suffering and a lament of their present situations are engraved in 7 monumental letters that they exchange 10 years after the break-up. Alexander Pope chanced upon three letters written by Eloisa and composed them into a memorable poem… a few verses of which, translated to an opus of tragic love in this movie.

Eloisa, a nun who has surrendered her life to the services of God, longs for the unstressed life a loveless vestal (Latin virgin committed to the church) leads. Oh!! She yearns for obedient slumbers and alert hours. For composed desires and even temperament. To have the ability to forget the world that had in turn forgotten about her. For a spotlessly clean mind devoid of unpleasant emotions. Would not life be eternally sunny? Life is truly torturous beyond failed love.

The leads in short:
Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet:
Jim is introduced as the modern world corruption of Abelard. Not quite as learned as Abelard but at least as indecisive and emotionally constrained. He is “constitutionally unable to make eye contact with another woman”, a recluse, loser, a recalcitrant coward, who does not have a very promising life ahead of him.
Kate is introduced as the exact opposite of Jim. Ebullient yet extremely sentimental, is young and has a very positive attitude towards life.
Jim and Kate naturally fall in love and are inexorably attracted towards each other. Their dialogues are commonplace but suit the situation. It is vaguely pleasurable to follow their conversation. In fact I liked it all the more when I read through the script. The two do the A and E. To what level do they go in this story?

The script in short:
Kauffman does not go into complete insanity like probably P.T Anderson would have. His story-telling is unique to the point of being insane but stops there. This story of Jim Carrey trying to hide Kate in a place in memory and his life which cannot be corrupted by any memory erase technique gives Kauffman ample opportunity to experiment with presentation techniques. Jim initially tries to conjure up insane locations that would not possibly be corrupted like a bed on the beach. THe visuals are also spectacular with the props while the characters are interracting always saying something about the mood they are in. Cars fly about when Kate is angry and the room has very pleasant colours when they are just two happy lovers. Remember the entire movie runs in Jim’s mind...

It is not a very complicated story and hence the sequence of events is convoluted to add the interest factor in the movie. The scenes are shuffled forward and backward which while clearing some lingering doubts, continuously raises some more about the next sequence. There are two storylines flashing alternately. One, that of the assistants doing their job of erasing. This happens along the positive timeline. The second is just Jim’s dreams, which keeps going from Jim’s childhood to his present day in a pseudo random sequence. There is also a mini A and E in the forward storyline of the doctor and the receptionist who are in turn running away from their problems by erasing the girl’s memories. The movie starts and ends with Jim waking up from a deep sleep, the only difference being that at the end of the movie, Jim knows what he has to do while at the beginning, he is confused.

There are some memorable scenes which showcase the histrionic abilities of both Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet that should not be missed. There are some truly intelligent non-CGI effects that are employed in some scenes that you can see only if you get the DVD. Also, while watching the movie, try to imagine this situation. You are trying to keep segments of a word document and you find that the ctrl C/ ctrl V key becomes the delete key every once in a while just so that you lose whatever data you are trying to paste… that is the level of frustration that Jim might be feeling.

Ok. I have tried to explain as much about the movie without giving away what will happen at the end… happy viewing.

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