Every so often you find yourself blown away by the sheer power of a film. A film’s power can do a lot to one’s mind. Remember what Schindler’s List did to you? I certainly do. Charlie Kaufman’s latest effort is a fantastic masterpiece that will certainly leave an impact on your mind, soul, and body that few films can leave.
Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet star was Joel Barish and Clementine. The two seem like they’re happy until the two suddenly break it off. Joel has turned from a happy man full of lif… into a depress slug. Trying to get his life back together, Joel travels to his local library where he runs into Clementine. Something strange has occurred, as Clementine has no recollection of who Joel is. After researching into what’s she has been doing since they broke it off, Joel finds out that Clementine has involved herself in a new scientific research method that resulted in her mind, particularly the painful portion of her mind, getting wiped. This is when Joel realizes he must go see this doctor immediately in hopes of getting the same procedure done.
What makes a film like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind work at the level it does is that the main man behind it, Charlie Kaufman, is a visionary. A recent effort of his, Being John Malkovich, is one of those films you have to see simply so you can see and feel the amazing power the film has. Kaufman, like in Malkovich, excels at presenting ideas and themes we actually want to stop and think about. I mean just think about your loved one suddenly having their mind erased not knowing who you are. You would go to the greatest depths to prove to that person who you are and what you once meant to them. At least I know I would. The situation Joel endures seems so surreal that the film is taken to a level that Kaufman’s films commonly sit upon. Kaufman has also gathered together a great cast, which helps to capture what he’s aiming for.
The acting is excellent all around. Carrey, in another dramatic role, shows us that he has what it takes to be a dramatic actor. His previous efforts in Man on the Moon and The Majestic were just the icing on the cake. He goes all out here bringing the big guns to the table as he plays a depressed man who realizes that the only way to show your true love to someone else is to become that person (mentally that is). Barish feels that if his mind is wiped, he can start to love Clementine all over again and, more importantly, figure out new ways to show his love to her. Winslet is also quite impressive her. It should come as no surprise to anyone after they view this film that Winslet was nominated for Best Actress by the Academy. She captures every raw emotion and feeling that one may expect out of someone in her situation. Only she does it with finesse.
I commented last week in my review of The Game that I thank HD DVD as it’s allowing myself to see all these classic films. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is one of those rare films that you can help but enjoy. If you haven’t seen this one, don’t wait as long as I did. See this one immediately as I’m positive you won’t regret it.
Presented in a 1080p, VC-1 Encoded, 1:85:1 widescreen aspect ratio, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind looks absolutely amazing presenting itself in a fine manner that captures every little detail and possible theme of the film.
Color usage was perfect with solid blacks and vibrant blues. Since a majority of the film felt like a kind of somber world, the themes and colors are captured perfectly. Grain was pretty much absent and sharpness was excellent. Detail was also great particularly the sequence that is discussed in-depth below. This sequence is stunning. Take a moment and pause and actually look at the level of detail in this sequence. You’ll definitely be stunned. Universal should be extremely proud of themselves on this one. This one is getting the perfect rating, as I couldn’t find any problems.
Arriving with the standard Dolby Digital Plus 5.1, I didn’t really expect much out of this audio track. When I found in the end was the type of track that might not sound good up front, but once you go in for a closer look, you’ll come out pleasantly surprised.
Dialogue was simple and effective never becoming muddled or hard to understand. Surround usage was powerful and creepy to the point where I felt almost like I was actually in Joel’s world. Dynamic Range was also quite pleasing with noticeable discrete effects, particularly in the aforementioned sequence where the world around Joel is collapsing. I suppose the only real negative here is that some of the overall quality of the score by Jon Brion felt somewhat odd. The score was effective but it felt like it was kind of mixed in instead of becoming overly present and making its own place. Besides this, which may actually be somewhat of an annoyance for myself, this track was great and I wish we could have gotten a TrueHD track.
- A Look Inside: Running around 12 minutes, this one serves as a basic making of feature. We get a few comments from the cast and director Michael Gondry, but this one is kind of flat.
- Deleted and Extended Scenes: Here we’re given 19 minutes of various deleted and extended scenes. Instead of presenting scenes that actually deserved to be deleted, the presented scenes actually felt like they would’ve worked in the final product. The biggest topic revolves around Joel’s ex-girlfriend Naomi. If only Gondry would have had a bit of insight into these scenes.
- A Conversation with Jim Carrey and Director Michael Gondry: At 16 minutes in length, I really enjoyed this one as it showcased Carrey and Gondry simply at their best. Even though they were in front of cameras, both acted like they were just gabbing with each other in a bar.
- A Conversation with Kate Winslet and Michael Gondry: At 14 minutes in length, this feature is just as funny as the above conversation with Carrey. Even though Winslet mostly dominates the 14 minutes speaking about her character, I enjoyed the comments both had.
- Inside the Mind of Michael Gondry: Running 20 minutes, this feature serves as a basic celebration of the film’s director. A majority of the cast and crew throw in a comment or two making this one seem more from the heart. Never once did anyone mention something that hasn’t been said before. We also get a few comments from Gondry on how he shot the film. The only negative here is that this feature was a bit too short.
- Audio Commentary with Michael Gondry and Writer Charlie Kaufman: This commentary felt kind of odd as a majority of the track was so quiet I had begun to wonder if I had hit the mute button by accident. Even though Gondry and Kaufman do have a few insightful notes into the film, I felt more could have been said especially when you consider how many people like this film.
- Anatomy of a Scene: 17 minutes and running, this one is fantastic and well worth your every minute. The Scene in question is the scene where Joel follows Clementine down the street when the world starts going nuts. Every little part of the scene is broken down from the music to the CG effects.
- The Polyphonic Spree Music Video: A pretty good song is given the music video treatment for the song “Light & Day”.
- Lacuna Infomercial: The full commercial is shown here.
Universal continues their winning ways with this release of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind on HD DVD. The film is amazing, the transfer is stunning, the audio is great and the features are plenty and interesting. Universal delivers a first-rate package for a gem of a film.
Special Features List
- A Look Inside
- Deleted and Extended Scenes
- A Conversation with Jim Carrey and Director Michael Gondry
- A Conversation with Kate Winslet and Michael Gondry
- Inside the Mind of Michael Gondry
- Audio Commentary with Michael Gondry and Writer Charlie Kaufman
- Anatomy of a Scene
- The Polyphonic Spree Music Video
- Lacuna Infomercial