I have never liked Jim Carrey as an actor, not so much because of his acting, but because of the roles that he played. I appreciate his corporal expressions and the difficulties and talents that’s required to play the stand up slapstick comic roles that has always been his roles; so when Kate Winslet mentions in an Actors Studio presentation - thanks to YouTube - that Jim plays another kind of role in Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, and that it was a special film for Jim, I decided to see whats Jim like when he plays a straight character?
Surprise, not only was Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirstin Dunst, but all the players in the movie were really good! And what a well constructed story! From the inventive premise to the details, the actors skills, economy of expressions – and the director’s attention to consistencies in intriques when one hint has been launched it would be recalled and reinforced later in the story; we remember oh, yes, that happened back at the beginning, yes, that’s why… Many subtle weaving in and out of a story that play on several levels. The story was not only built on the fantasy of scientific erasure of memory, but echoed real life, don’t we all erase as we go along? The film is poetic as it builds on the narrative and maintains a leg on a philosophical level.
The Dunst character had playful sex with her co-worker the technician, who was in love with her and just finished having sex with her at the patient’s (Jim) home during his session of erasure in state of sleep. Something went wrong, the doctor had to come personally in the middle of the night to straighten out the mess. The technician had to witness her two timing him! While the doc tried to make emergency fixes at the patients house, I found it odd why the technician decided to just go outside– when he sensed an intimacy developing between the doc and Dunst (he should have been jealous if he cared about Dunst, but strangely, he was shown more like, being delicate; the script was so smart here, ... it left the trace of a little tail…)
The seduction scene between Dunst and the Doc was very well scripted –while Jim was sleeping and getting his memory erased. So natural, but suddenly we realised something : that for the Dunst character, it’s a second take, the doctor was sheepish because he knew something that Dunst didnt – we could erase the memory of a person, but our character, who we fall for remains the same. The Dunst character fell in love with the doctor because she adored intelligent people as she herself aspired to becoming intelligent. As the wife arrived outside just in time to see them kissing framed in the window in full view from the street… the doctor tried to explain and to stop his wife from driving away, the Dunst character frantically apologised to the angry wife that… sorry…she's just a stupid girl, it's just a one time mistake. Then the wife glared at her and said, no, I give him back to you!! Even as an angry wife – she had to resign to reality – Dunst couldn’t help herself…Dunst already had her memory erased but the situation was still the same.
Revelation, even if our memory had been erased, our character remained. Given favorable circumstances, we would still fall for the same person as our character determined our fate. The theme of the movie thunders here and smartly straight to the heart through the side characters who were graced with critical turning point moments.
Kirsten Dunst was very natural and lovely as a contemporary woman in love with her boss. Her elegant slim body, not anorexic, but svelt ... and dreamy soft expressions had been cast perfectly – we all love to have such a girl friend, pretty, kind, uncomplicated, easy going, contemporary : she liked to relax, get stoned and also aspired to be intelligent- positive light character. The Dunst character contrasted with the Kate Winslet character; a wilder sensual, also not anorexic woman with no self censorships, maybe she doesn’t exactly “fucks her way” with everyone but she had no problem with going after what her heart told her- did what she liked and erased her memory on impulse. Saying goodbye abruptly. Whereas the Dunst character had her memory erased to make it easier for her to continue working within proximity of the source of her love and pain.
The rest of the story are variations of how the two : Jim and Kate character meet again, the acceptance or non acceptance… as time, memories unfold.
Jim Carrey played his role well, unreproachable, but there is something in his presentation that made him not quite a memorable low key nervous type – even when he stayed quiet, eyes down, arms folded inwards, his presence is loud. Not that of a soft spoken insecure person. How could he have played this type of withdrawn introvert dramatic role? I have no answer.
Lets say if I had never seen any Jim Carrey movies, I wouldn’t have been wowed by his screen presence in this movie. He’s a very good actor and very professional. There must be a role that lets him play other roles aside from slap sticks – if he had wanted to - and at the same time deploy his range of dramatic talents.
As for Kate Winslet, she was superbly cast, human, not made up too beautifully like a star. A man would fall in love with her character – because she was not a feigning-to-be-weak woman, but she was really someone a little broken, someone who needed a man– more sentimental than practical needs: just opposite sex tender loving care, not super-man Man – when she’s gone overboard, depleted by her own unruly energy. Winslet was alive and kicking, yummy in her role.