Charlie Kaufman : Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind (2004)

If we chroniquons this movie, 12 years later, it is to try to unravel the mystery of CHARLIE KAUFMAN – if that was possible – before the release of his next feature film Anomalisa, February 3, 2016.

Return, therefore, to ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, where there is still “only” a screenwriter (Michel Gondry achieves) to find a new proof of the genius of the authors, and what happens when Charlie Kaufman puts aside the introspection to illustrate, in his script, what happens in the head of someone else.

In a universe slightly dystopian, Clementine has done to erase Joel from her memories ; ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND tells the story of the attempt of Joel to fill the hole made in its spiritual matter, by the deletion reciprocal of Clementine from his own memory. The film is the love story not quite like any other, told in its negative form; cinematically upside down (collapse, erosion, birth, and… ), and with hindsight, a story proven in the memory and, therefore, in its historical dimension itself. A memory told to the present… What could be more paradoxical ?

Of characterizing the neuroses and fantasies, to invent a lived experience, to interact and create a coherent environment that can accommodate the result of this interaction, has always been the basis of the film of Kaufman. But in analyzing the feeling of love itself, rather than translating an introspection in the material film, the film, written by Charlie Kaufman wins something unique, universal, timeless.

For me, ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND is the work of adaptation that Kaufman wished to provide with The Thief Orchid: transpose a and lived all his sensitivity, in a story bearing his trademark intelligence and stimulation.

The contribution of Charlie Kaufman through his awesome script appears in a first time, to through the structure of story; the author shapes a story broke that mixes several sub-plots, deconstructs and then rearranges everything in a way bluffing (redial acts, deconstruction of scenes, which take on another dimension when one puts together the puzzle). In ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, Joel is the spectator of his own life through the film of his memory. This mise en abyme, typically Kaufmanienne place so the protagonist at a metaphysical level, well above what it could have been – drawn from his experiences. It is the same for those who erase his memory. Make palpable the emotions in transforming the mechanisms of perception; combine the sensation with the memory of a perception of past stored in the memory; the form of the narrative, the border between memory and real life… there is in the great script of Kaufman, two levels of approach and reading, such as an analysis of the self by the outside. This intelligence into the analysis approximates this scenario of the other creations of Kaufman: In the Skin of John Malkovich, Adaptation, or later, Synecdoche New York and Anomalisa.

“ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, directed by Michel Gondry and scripted by Charlie Kaufman, is a pure masterpiece.”

A point of view, more philosophical, Joel is immersed, literally, in the memory of a merge with the object of his desire (Clementine), because the real makes this access impossible. So is it crippled by the absence of the desired object, and in the absence of not being able to live with it, can’t live with him because he will always remain the memory of their history. There is the idea of a remembrance, an intimate work of reconstruction of something that has been erased ; by forcing the trait, might we not assimilate the erasing process to be a form of repression, where the subject, Joel, is focused to the object that they are trying to spray it in his subconscious ? In the course of the film, Joel eventually find Clementine to its smallest memories and seeks to hide with her, without success ; from one moment to the other, Clementine to be snatched from him, will go out of the frame and be plunged in the darkness waiting for an earlier memory arises. In other words, he tries to escape the process that it undergoes in the reality in engonçant in the memory, in the fantasy. Still an autobiographical character for Charlie Kaufman ? Unless this is for Michel Gondry ?

It is actually to this hypothesis denying in part the success ofETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND to Charlie Kaufman, as we look.

This is not free; we make this assumption from a knowledge deep enough of the work of Gondry – his videos, his short films, his small creations of his feature films, but also the fabulous documentary in two parts I’ve been twelve Forever – work in which the author speaks clearly of him, but in a way autobiographical, rather than analytic, in contrast to the usual scripts of Kaufman. It is as well that we are able to recognise many of the traits specific to his personality (his creativity, his discretion, his lack of cynicism, its simplicity) rejaillissant quite clearly in Joel Barish, him and his relationship with the couple, to women, to love. It is as well that we recognized this sensitivity in a very particular time, or that we have been familiar of these humiliations suffered by Joel through the synthesis of the female that is Clementine. This is why our empathy for his story is found tenfold, by a certain use of the cliché Gondry-ien, a stamp-a truth undeniable drawing on the lived experience of the author.

So far, Gondry does not only bring his personality into the script, he reached his staging a balance that it would almost never more. A balance between personality, obsessions, creativity, and intelligence as to the function imaging of the cinema, in line with the script. We will add to this that sharpness in the direction of the actors, helping to capture the truth and the emotions of the characters. Then, the music (Jon Brion), photo (Ellen Kuras), mounting (Valdís Óskarsdóttir), sound, sets, costumes, etc., If the various departments of art are absolutely controlled by their respective authors, a talent additional of Michel Gondry as the director of the film (the phrase really makes sense) is to organize all of this.

We will regret simply that … … … but in fact, ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND is the film in which even the imperfections feed on perfection. His aura of genius transcends all the intellectualization, the whole idea of staging or technical specifications; Kaufman structure sensitivity, the nostalgia and the experience of Michel Gondry from a script of an intelligence cinematic and spiritual rare, whereas Michel Gondry, the real soul of the film, ends to make it a masterpiece. So, that is all.


Written Critique 6-handed : Felix, Sofiane and Georgeslechameau


Criticism of the films scripted and directed by Charlie Kaufman

In the skin of John Malkovitch (1999)

Human Nature (2001)

Confessions of a Dangerous Man (2002)

Adaptation. (2002)

Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind (2004)

Synecdoche New York (2008)

Anomalisa (2016)



Original title : Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind

Realization : Michel Gondry

Screenplay : Charlie Kaufman, Michel Gondry, Pierre Bismuth

Main actors : Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Wilkinson

Country of origin : U. S. A.

Released : October 6, 2004

Duration : 1h 48min

Distributor : United International Pictures (UIP)
Synopsis : Joel and Clementine do not see the bad side of their tumultuous love story, to the point that it is erased from his memory any trace of this relationship. Collapsed, Joel contacts the inventor of the process Lacuna, the Dr. Mierzwiak, to extirpate his memory of everything related to Clementine…

Category: Uncategorized

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