Reviewed by: Sheri McMurray
What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer
Is formalized marriage becoming obsolete? Answer
What are the consequences of sexual immorality? Answer
|Director||Michel Gondry—“Be Kind Rewind” (2008)|
|Producer||Anthony Bregman, Steve Golin|
Love: A passionate affection for someone (Webster’s NewWorld Dictionary).
And this is Love: that we walk in obedience to His commands. As you have heard from the beginning, His command is that you walk in love (2 John verse 6).
Everywhere we turn we see this present world disintegrating into selfishness and sin. As the world sees it, especially in Hollywood it would seem, the view is towards brokenness and pain. Relationships are hallow. Marriages fall apart. In the eyes of many writers (as in Charlie Kaufman’s script) love relationships are traced by bitter disputes and troubles in relating to one another’s basic needs.
Kaufman is not known for the happy ending. Although very original, his previous works (“Being John Malkovich” and “Adaptation,” to name two) deal with great confusion about life in general and what ever to do with it? Kaufman’s themes run through degenerate feelings and morbid dysfunctional messages throughout. “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” has given me a small ray of hope as the outcome is basically positive, although getting to that point is a grueling yet thought provoking experience for the audience.
Beginning with Joel Barish (a wonderful, sincere, expert Jim Carrey) awaking in his apartment confused and distressed clear through to the ending where Joel awakes in the same exact way except knowing what he must do, we enter a wild world of neurotic characters, domestic discord, and jagged compositions. It is the type of movie one must stay focused on or else something will be missed. It had my attention throughout. Although some scenes were unsettling and hard for me to watch as a Christian, the excellent acting kept me enthralled.
From Joel’s decision to skip work and take a commuter train from Yonkers to Montauk through the time he meets the love of his life, Clementine Kruczynski (played to a free spirited “T” by Kate Winslet), we are made aware he is a painfully shy man wandering through his life in a cloud of dissatisfaction and loneliness. Clementine wakes him out of his dismal fog and introduces him to all he is not. She is prone to changing her attitudes and thoughts as often as her hair color and manages to drag Joel underfoot rather than have him riding along beside her. The live-in relationship crumbles based on the observation they are wildly different personalities. He says “Be careful, what are you doing?” as she expounds “I am not wasting one second of the time I have!”
Because of the tug of war going on between them caused by the obvious gap in personalities, Joel knows his relationship with Clementine is unraveling but doesn’t know how to mend it. He gets a shock to his heart when he finds out the impulsive Clem has had her memories of Joel totally erased from her mind by a procedure invented by a Dr. Howard Mierzwiak (played down to Earth by Tom Wilkinson).
After rushing to see the inventor and listening to the calm intelligence of the good Doctor as he explains the process (“There is good and evil in this life, we help people get over pain by giving them something new. It will be as if nothing has happened—a new life is awaiting you!”), the heartbroken Joel decides to undergo the procedure as well.
With the help of technicians Stan (a nerdy Mark Ruffalo), Patrick (Elijah Wood breaking his hobbit mold being a wormy, sweaty-palmed deceiver) and office secretary May (a sweet, unsure almost gossamer Kirsten Dunst), the memory erasure procedure commences in Joel’s apartment heaped in technological equipment and a disturbing party atmosphere. As Joel lays in a drug induced comma at the mercy of this unethical trio, we are taken along for the journey through his memories of Clem from the most recent painful ones back to the gentle, unselfish memories he realizes endeared her to him in the first place. Joel agonizes over the fact he has made a rash decision and even though in a sleep state, tries desperately to halt the memory eradication process! Joel’s mind works courageously to hide Clementine in the memories of places in his life she never visited.
As overlapping stories unfold in Joel’s memories and overlapping realities progress real-time, the audience is taken on an action packed, surreal, funny and often heart wrenching ride through the rest of the film. Disturbing and at times beautiful, Ellen Kuras’ cinematography along with Valdis Oskarsdottir’s editing is stand-out! They bring us through the process as if we are there in Joel’s mind. His memories merge and evaporate, morph and change through time and space as if we also were living his dreams. We are caught up in the race against time to redeem, capture and protect what is truly dear in all our lives, which is to love and be loved.
The end is a wonderful concept… what if we could go back over, re-think, clean up and make right all the wrongs we have done to someone we love. I must admit, I was greatly moved at the ending and the way our two principal characters re-met and were given just that. The chance to start over and be kind, sincere, honest, and giving to the other’s needs. To find each other again using the heart and not the mind.
My review on a spiritual basis had me reeling. There was so much profanity going on I was worn out trying to keep track of it. There were prolific references to pre-marital sex (not any mention of a committed love-relationship, just sex), smoking “joints” and mostly uninhibited, “if-it-feels-good-do-it” attitudes by the characters of the supporting cast. How fallen our society has become stung at my spirit and made me clearly aware of how our youth today needs Jesus.
There will always be pain and suffering for those who fall into sexual sin and unfaithfulness to their marriage partner. Not once did I see or hear any reference to starting over with God as the head of the relationship or any reference to marriage as a true commitment. It appears the youth today are being steered more and more towards living together as the acceptable norm, and that unfaithfulness in marriage is funny. We as the faithful must be the watchmen over them and teach them the consequences God h as ordained in His Word. All of us are born into sin and without Jesus and His knowledge of true love, the wages of these sins come at a terrible cost.
All told the profanity level was high. Counting: f-word (2), Lord’s name in vain (1), b**ch (1), a** (1), and sh** (1) all before the opening credits! Clementine’s character used the f-word constantly. I stopped counting at 15 times. The other characters sprinkled the dialogue with more throughout:G**d**** (3), Lord’s name in vain (4), h*ll (1), sh** (6), and 2 more h*ll before I got writer’s cramp.
The R rating was very appropriate for strong sexual references (although surprisingly you were made aware some of the characters were nude, but nothing was ever shown on camera), drug use, profanities and adult themes in reference to masturbation and twice referring to Clementine’s “crotch.” This movie is for no one under the age of 18 because of these references and also for the extremely unChristian views on pre marital or any kind of sex without the benefit of marriage.
In one of Joel’s childhood memories he is forced to hammer a baby bird (already dead and probably fallen out of the nest) to a pulp by some neighborhood kids and his remorse is strongly felt. So, no children allowed to this film is my strict recommendation!
If anyone has heard of Alexander Pope, the great English poet, his poem “Eloisa to Abelard” is the subject from which the title to this film springs. Although touted as a Christian who had compassion and eloquence, Pope, in my view, used sexual frustration as his themes and shown an over-reaction to the sexual repression of his day. Eloisa wanted to free herself from the great love of her life, but in reality was only paying the price for having had an affair with a much older man and the painful consequence of having his child! How against Christian example is that? Overall, we could substitute the name Eloisa and put in Clementine, the pain because of sin is still the same.
My bottom line: We cannot erase bad memories. We can never rely on our own inner strengths, whatever we may conjure them up to be. We make ourselves alien to real, true Godly love when we allow sin to run ramped in our lives. I found much if not all of the bitter sweet sadness in this film the product of uncontrolled lives without benefit of the guidance and transforming peace of God and His Word. God knows that those who walk without him have broken a relationship much more important than human love, but running away from Him most times runs us right into Him. Be strong in The Lord. Allow Him to be your strength in all facets of your life. There are no “cures” or medical, technological processes in all of humankind to heal our broken hearts or bring us love. Only our Father in Heaven can do that.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Phillippians 4:6-7).
“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” was a well done, imaginative look at romantic emotions. Although not Godly in premiss, it will make us all think about how we can treat the ones we love with concern, respect and show them love at every turn right now, for we will never get another chance as Joel and Clementine did. As Our Lord would do… let us walk in tender devotion as was His passion, for there lies not eternal sunshine but eternal love.