Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

dir. Gondry

Opens Fri March 19

Various Theaters

The last Michel Gondry/Charlie Kaufman collaboration, Human Nature, eventually crumbled under its own quirkiness (considerably helped along by the staggering blandness of Tim Robbins). But their new film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, finds director and scribe fitting perfectly together. It is also one of the most beautifully assembled romances you will ever see.

The film begins in a drab bedroom, where Joel (Jim Carrey)--a slump of a person, a true sad sack--seems confused by his own pajamas. He's in shambles, which can mean only one thing: Someone has broken his heart.

Joel's heartbreaker (or as we will soon see, former heartbreaker, or soon-to-be heartbreaker) is a girl named Clementine (Kate Winslet), who lives her life teetering on the edge of personal chaos. The expected romance blooms, but just as Eternal Sunshine begins to settle into a rhythm, Gondry and Kaufman toss the film far ahead in time, to a point beyond Joel and Clementine's break-up.

Joel is severely wounded by the split and, seeking the comfort of friends, he stumbles across disturbing information: Clementine has had everything relating to him erased from her memory.

To reveal any more of what happens would steal the brilliance and heartbreak of watching this film. Eternal Sunshine, in the end, is about the foreseeable pain we all embrace when we give our heart to someone, a pain brought on by betrayal or break-up or, eventually, death. It is a pain we know lurks out there, and that we continue to press forward despite such a threat clearly fascinates the filmmakers. The result of this fascination wonders and inspires, for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind does what every meaningful relationship eventually does: It leaves you broken and yearning for love.

See our interview with Michael Gondry and Charlie Kaufman, page 37.