Jim Carrey as Joel Barish
Kate Winslet as Clementine Kruczynski
Gerry Robert Byrne as Train Conductor
Elijah Wood as Patrick
Thomas Jay Ryan as Frank
Mark Ruffalo as Stan
Jane Adams as Carrie
David Cross as Rob
Kirsten Dunst as Mary
Tom Wilkinson as Dr. Howard Mierzwiak
Ryan Whitney as Young Joel
Debbon Ayer as Joel's Mother
How happy is the blameless vestal's lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Alexander Pope, 'Eloisa to Abelard' 1717
Writer Charlie Kaufman is known for his strange but inspired screenplays. Being John Malkovich explored what happens when you overcrowd a mind, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind goes in the opposite direction and addresses what happens when memories are taken away.
Jim Carrey stars as Joel Barish, a shrewish introvert that is having a bad day. He literally falls out of bed, goes outside to find that his car was run into, and then at the train station, on his way to work, he makes a wild decision. He runs to a train leaving in the opposite direction and goes to the beach, even though it is still winter.
At the beach Joel repeatedly runs into Clementine (Kate Winslet). Clementine is Joel's polar opposite. She is outgoing, boisterous, and in need of attention; and she almost forces Joel to give her that attention. In spite of their different natures, or maybe because of it, they immediately develop a relationship with each other.
From there the movie jumps backward and forward in time. Showing the events that led up to Joel's meeting with Clementine. Many movies with a non-linear plot are very hard to follow, but not here. It is integral to the movie that the past is not revealed until events in the present are understood.
Rounding out the cast are Elijah Wood, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Wilkinson, and Kirsten Dunst. All of whom give solid performances. But it is Jim Carrey's movie to carry and he does it masterfully. Carrey is famous for his over the top, almost manic, comedic roles but his dramatic roles are equally impressive and this one highlights his huge range as an actor.
The special effects are wonderful. They are in the background and accent the movie instead of drive it. Jon Brion composes a musical score that is also subdued but supports the action of the movie, which is the incredible character interactions.
Who should see this movie? Anyone who follows Charlie Kaufman's career will love this movie. Jim Carrey fans will get a chance to see him shine in an unusual role. The movie has humor throughout, but it is mostly a dry humor and not the side splitting humor in most of Carrey's movies. If you are looking for action you will need to look someplace else, since almost the entire story is told through dialog. So if you are looking for a movie that will engage your mind you will find it here. Overall Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a love story. An unusual one but a great one, it will have you asking questions about the true nature of love for some time afterwards.