Charlie Kaufman’s screenplays are renowned as first-rank brainteasers. One structured as a chase scene through the human cerebellum is no exception, but Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind manages to be a major-league tear-duct tickler, too. The plot, in which Jim Carrey deigns to have his memories of his ex, Kate Winslet, literally zapped away, goes through all sorts of twists before finally arriving at a highly emotive, not-so-sci-fi question: If, in the first flush of romance, you could find out from your more cynical self everything you might come to despise about your partner, would you go through with it? That the film deals with commitment and compatibility issues in such raw terms should make it required viewing at couples counseling retreats, as well as a likely film-school perennial.
EXTRAS Carrey’s anti-typecasting as a wounded introvert was an even bigger puzzle than the script to some viewers, and in a featurette, Winslet insists she’s playing ”the Jim Carrey part” and vice versa. But in a commentary with Kaufman, director Michel Gondry points out how crucial Carrey’s manic energy was to fantasy scenes where he reverts to boyhood: ”There’s not many actors I could think of being in an oversize kitchen sink and not being stupid.”