Wednesday, 15 February 2012
It was Valentine’s Day yesterday and at the end of the day I settled down to a romantic film with my loved one. The film in question was Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It was a second viewing of this film for me and I had (ironically) forgotten how much I liked it. It was also super-suitable. Not only was it a romantic film - suitable for the demands of the day - it was an excellent piece of science fiction. I like clever films - as I like clever fiction – and Eternal Sunshine is appropriately ambitious and structurally experimental, while at the same time drawing understated but heart-wrenching performances from its two leads: Jim Carrey (who can be very good) and Kate Winslet (always very good).
I won’t ruin it for others by paraphrasing the narrative: the story, however, is refreshingly honest about the nature of romantic relationships at the same time as keeping the audience on their toes with interesting visuals and playful organisation. As a piece of science fiction it is not only a cerebral film with something to say, it also manages to effortlessly work in a highly original chase sequence. In fact, re-watching the film, it reminded me that Christopher Nolan’s (still excellent) Inception wasn’t perhaps as original as initially thought. The supporting cast (Kirsten Dunst, Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood and Tom Wilkinson) are all excellent, with their sub-plots all feeding thematically and structurally into the main story. As Director, Michael Gondry manages to give the film a visual style that is both authentic and surprisingly distinctive at the same time. Most credit deserves to go to the writing genius that is Charlie Kaufman: it is almost as though the entire film, in its glorious detail and cleverness was splurged fully formed onto celluloid from the man’s brain. Kaufman pulls off both an Academy Award winning script and a great piece of science fiction at the same time. The film is that rarest of beasts – a science fiction romance, that is very satisfying as both.
Here are five more, that although not in the same class as Eternal Sunshine, are in the same category. That said, Groundhog Day is pretty damn good too. Perhaps you can think of more.
Bill Murray plays Phil Connors, an egocentric Pittsburgh TV weatherman who, during a hated assignment covering the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, finds himself repeating the same day over and over again. He uses this unusual event to try a woo his producer, Andie McDowell.
The Time Traveller’s Wife
Eric Bana is Henry DeTamble, a Chicago librarian with a genetic disorder that causes him to time travel randomly as he tries to build a romantic relationship with his love Claire, played by Rachel McAdams.
The Lake House
Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock as Alex Wyler and Kate Forster, respectively an architect living in 2004 and a doctor living in 2006. The two meet via letters left in a mailbox at the lake house they have both lived in at separate points in time; they begin to fall in love, carrying on correspondence over two years, remaining separated by their original difference of two years.
Meet Joe Black
Brad Pitt plays Death, who decides to spend some time on Earth as part of a recreational and research undertaking. He chooses billionaire on the brink of death Anthony Hopkins as his guide in exchange for a few more days of life, but Death does not figure on falling in love with Claire Forlani - Hopkins’ daughter - along the way.
Kate and Leopold
Hugh Jackman plays a duke who accidentally travels through time from New York in 1876 to the present and falls in love with career woman Meg Ryan modern day New York.