Joel Barrish (Jim Carrey) is a depressed, emotionally withdrawn man who doesn't really have anything positive going for him in life all. That's until he boards a New York train and meets Clementine (Kate Winslet), a immensely free-spirited woman who helps bring Joel out of his down-on-his-luck attitude. What they don't know though, is that they were both former lovers who had the memories of their relationship erased by Lacuna Inc., a New York City firm that specializes in erasing the memories a certain person doesn't want to retain anymore in their life. The script uses a nonlinear narrative structure switching in between the present where Lacuna employees (Mark Ruffalo,Kirsten Dunst and Elijah Wood) are in the process of erasing Joel's memory, which intercut with Joel's memory starting with his and Clementine's break-up and ending with the first time they met each other. During the memory erasure period though, Joel tries to fight off the process in order to hold on to the happier times that he and Clementine had with one another, which leads to the interference of lead Lacuna doctor Howard Mierzwiak (Tom Wilkinson) to prevent him from doing so.
Director Michel Gondry's background in directing music videos helps lend this film an artistic style that makes each scene look like it was straight out of a painting, much like what would've happened if Spike Jonze was behind the camera calling the shots. Gondry uses a series of original visual tricks concerning Joel's fading memories with Clementine, especially in sequences in his memory where objects either disappear or turn white from their original color. That style ends up giving off a feeling of odd realism, where you actually feel like you're really inside Joel's memories in the process of erasure. In addition, Gondry pulls off several camera tricks where certain objects in a scene disappear from the shot, and end up reappearing in new spots.
"Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" is without a doubt one of the most thought-provoking movies of the last decade, but also one that's heightened by brazenly original imagination and execution. I'm also not one that usually thinks about life in general during a movie, but this film had me thinking in my mind throughout about the aspects of the human memory, in addition to the complexity of both love and relationships. An astounding work of cinematic art that deserves to stand alongside "There Will Be Blood" as the greatest films of the 2000s decade, "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" is a wondrously smart romantic dramedy that will quite possibly stand as one of the most poignant romance dramas in cinematic history.
Final Grade: A