Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (UK - BD RB)
Marcus remembers to watch this Blu-ray despite his memory being wiped clean
Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) and his off beat free spirited girlfriend Clementine (Kate Winslet) want to forget about each other after their break up. Clementine has taken an unorthodox step and used a small company Lacuna Inc. to wipe Joel from her memory. Finding out about this Joel follows the same path but when this memories of Clementine begin to disappear he regrets his decision and fights to hold onto their fondest moments.
Charlie Kaufman and Michel Gondry is a match made in movie heaven, right? Both experimental in their work and playful in how they depict their stories and themes. With both of their not very Hollywood approaches to storytelling coming together for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind this project proved to be an almost a perfect representation of both of their bodies of work at the time and seven years on from its 2004 release, the movie world still needs more movies like these guys make.
With a fantasticly lo-fi performance from Jim Carrey (who also comes with dead cool hair) this strange tale gets progressively more interesting the more it unravels. Sure there's a pretty conventional ending to events that I personal don't really need to be left satisfied but the acceptance of their probably doomed fate is quite refreshing in the world of movie romance and both Jim and Kate make the sheer kookiness of all this work.
Despite liking both the leads here, the two performances I always come away loving with this movie are from Mark Ruffalo and Kirsten Dunst. Both are relatively small roles but both are on fine form, Dunst offering up pretty much everything I love about her on film in a single role and Ruffalo giving us one of the coolest movie tech nerds around. Those two dancing on the unconscious Joel's bed puts a smile on my face somehow and I really dig their parts in the film.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is one of those movies I really, really like but I can't say it totally gets me every time. Sometimes it feels too long, sometimes the end doesn't quite click for me and sometimes what was once a story that felt quite clever feels a little too straightforward somehow. That said, it had been a while since I last saw it and it all worked perfectly well this time out. I still don't feel Elijah Wood's threatening weirdo presence is utilised enough but it's not really all that important in the grand scheme of things and I came away from this viewing really enjoying this twisted little tale of romance and heartbreak.
On a side note, I also had a bit of fun with a thought that popped into my head half way through the film. Eternal Sunshine really works as a sort of sequel to Scott Pilgrim. Seriously, this could easily be Ramona and Scott ten or fifteen years down the line and the quirky playfulness with real world romance and insecurity is very much akin to what's happening in Eternal Sunshine. Plus you've got the more obvious similarities. Ramona and Clementine's hair colour changes, Joel and Scott's Parka coat and the pair's insecurity and paranoia as well as the fade to snowy white at the end. There's a lot here that gel the two stories together and I really got a kick out of that as a new angle to watch the film with. Give it a shot. It's fun.
Well to go with the cold winter feel the movie has (again a lot like Scott Pilgrim - okay I'll stop it now), the image has a very cold, blue feel to it. Snow is nice and white but everything else from skylines to clothes are toned down. Saying that there's some very natural lighting here which also helps to capture a cold day perfectly and of course all this makes Clementine's bright hair and clothes leap off of the screen.
As for the image as a whole, it's a little soft but this feels like part of the stylistic choices for the look of the film because when it wants to show off detail (usually while we're within the trippier inside of Joel's head scenes) facial textures and small details really come to life. Thanks largely to the very natural looking dark shadows and lo-fi natural lighting.
Grain is always present but again this feels intentional for the look of the film and really the only downside of the HD upgrade is some of the minor effects look a bit more obvious. The scene where Joel and Clementine go to the frozen lake looks particularly iffy with the pair in the foreground covered in a layer of blue and nothing like the background elements. It's a small incidental thing because generally this transfer feels just about perfect for the look of the film and its colour and lighting enhancements make this a clear HD upgrade over the DVD.
There's a slight muffled feel to Jim Carrey's voice over at the beginning of the film but beyond that the dialogue is crisp and clear living in the centre speaker. From time to time sounds pop up where you don't expect them to be, mainly during the trippier memory erasing scenes and the lively playful score makes for a strong presence, rounding up the track to be quite impressive.
Horns in the rear speakers and other elements of the frankly brilliant Jon Brion score as well as the good soundtrack selection seem to pop up in different channels and makes the music an unseen but thoroughly felt character and really there were no complaints about this DTS-HD Master Audio track at all. It's obviously not knock you over aggressive good but it's a solid track that compliments the visuals well.
The disc opens with trailers for Control, Lost in Translation and Amelie and then it's on to the commentary track with Michel Gondry and Charlie Kaufman. It begins with the trouble to get the film made and the difficultly of the pitch and then goes through various elements from a writing and film making point of view. The pair gel well and even with the silent moments, of which there are a fair few, this still ends being a good track to listen to.
The deleted and extended scenes clock in at 25:44 and are all in pretty rough standard definition. Then we get a pretty conventional short making of 'A Look Inside' (11:32 SD).
'A conversation with Jim Carrey and Michel Gondry' (15:35 SD) is the featurettte I remembered the most from the DVD with the pair in a music room at school desks talking about each other and the film all intercut with on set footage.
'Inside the Mind of Director Michel Gondry' (19:46 SD) is a fun little insight into the director with Jim, Kate and even Jon Brion giving their takes on his work. 'Anatomy of a Scene - 'Saratoga Avenue'' (17:18 SD) is a thorough look at the filmmaking process for the key scene.
'A Conversation With Kate Winslet and Michel Gondry' (14:24 SD) has the pair discussing each other's work and Gondry's "let's give it a try" attitude to making the film.
Lastly we get the 'Polyphonic Spree: Light and Day' video (03:03 SD), which reminded me I need to revisit their albums, the 'Lacuna Commercial' (00:35 SD), and the trailer (01:40 SD) meaning that all of this extra material is from the original DVD as opposed to anything new.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was a pleasant rewatch for a movie that I've had mixed feelings about over the years. I've never disliked it, but it never quite grabbed me and gave me a pleasing hug like I know it has for many of my friends. This latest viewing probably offered up my fondest experience with the film and the HD presentation is a nice upgrade to a relatively lo-fi film with all the existing DVD extras coming along for the ride.
* Note: The below images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 17th October 2011
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English
Extras: Commentary with Michel Gondry and Charlie Kaufman, A Conversation with Kate Winslet and Michel Gondry, A Conversation with Jim Carey and Michel Gondry, A Look Inside Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Inside the Mind of Michel Gondry, Deleted/Extended Scenes Anatomy of a Scene, The Polyphonic Spree 'Light & Day' Music Video, Lacuna Infomercial
Easter Egg: No
Director: Michel Gondry
Cast: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood, Tom Wilkinson
Genre: Drama, Romance and Sci-Fi
Length: 107 minutes
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