After a number of recommendations, some more forceful than others, I went to see Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind today. I have a variety of feelings about it, but in the end, as I left the theatre, I felt the same way I always do after discovering a beautiful work of art.
That's the bottom line with this film: it's a work of art, and it's very well done. It misses the mark of "life-changing" but only by a narrow margin. The story is touching and the acting is really quite wonderful. It's a damn shame that Jim Carrey has spent so much time doing goofball roles, because he's truly honest in this film and manages to make it through almost the entire picture without resorting to his old standby of physical humor. Kate Winslet easily turns in the best performance I've ever seen her give, and the supporting cast rounds out the whole nicely.
Much like my thoughts on Lost in Translation, I was struck again by how nicely this script could be adapted for the stage. I'm beginning to think that part of that reaction has to do with how I associate this type of art with theatre, and that I'm just unaccustomed to seeing it on screen. There are those elements of the two media that overlap in this case, though: very small cast (could be done with two characters, really) comes to mind immediately. Like Lost in Translation, though, the film incarnation of this script really does utilize the tools of that trade well: the visuals are mostly spectacular. Perhaps the lesson in all this is that I'm crazy.
The film did fail me in two places, however. In the middle of the picture I started getting tired of some of the memory sequences. Kaufman keeps hashing over the same point and manages to muddle some of the really nice work with some stuff that just seems like repetition. I think they could've cut 15 minutes from the middle of the movie to make the whole thing tighter and I was just surprised to occasionally find myself shifting in my seat eager for them to get on with it. The other problem is the subplot with the Lacuna employees. I just found it lumpy and it felt like some of it had been stapled on to serve the story instead of to serve the needs of those characters.
But let me go back to what I said at the beginning (appropriate for discussion of this film): the film is beautiful and the writing (I really want to read more stuff by Kaufman after discovering he shares my love affair with the frozen Charles--he really must've wanted the reference to work it into a movie set in NY) is so wonderfully executed by the actors and assembled into a whole by the director that I'll happily see again.