From acclaimed writer Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich) and visionary director Michel Gondry (The Science of Sleep) comes Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a sci-fi love story starring Jim Carrey (Man on the Moon) and Kate Winslet (Titanic). Joel is stunned to discover that his girlfriend, Clementine, has had their tumultuous relationship erased from her mind. Out of desperation, he contacts the inventor of the process, Dr. Howard Mierzwiak, to get the same treatment. But as his memories of Clementine begin to fade, Joel suddenly realizes how much he still loves her. Co-starring Kirsten Dunst (The Virgin Suicides), Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight), Elijah Wood (The Lord of the Rings) and Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton), Eternal Sunshine takes you on a surreal journey through breakups, breakdowns and breakthroughs, with captivating performances (including Best Actress Oscar nominee Winslet) and dazzling creativity (which earned the Best Original Screenplay Oscar).
For thoughts on Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, please check out my previous review here and another assessment here.
The 4K UHD Blu-Ray of Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind offers a subtle uptick in quality over the already-impressive accompanying remastered Blu-Ray, and an even bigger jump in quality compared to the older Universal Blu-Ray, most notably in its gains in fine detail and well-defined textures. This transfer is from a new Dolby Vision HDR Master newly color graded by cinematographer Ellen Kuras.
From what I gather from this interview with American Cinematographer, Kuras shot on film under some pretty wonky conditions and finished the film with a digital intermediate to help facilitate Gondry’s desire to insert digital composite effects throughout the film. What this means is that expectations should be firmly in check when going into this new disc. The reality is that Universal did not have a film negative for Kino that they could easily scan in 4K and completely rebuilding the raw materials in 4K along with the visual effects work would have been astronomically expensive. This is still a new 4K scan and grade, but there are limitations in creating this from a DI rather than the Original Camera Negative that was not exactly feasible. This disc is not going to be one you turn to if you want to demonstrate your home theater, but it is the best the film has looked on home entertainment.
As noted, this film has a very specific look dictated by Gondry and executed by Kuras with tons of aesthetic tweaks in post production. Scenes lacking obvious special effects fare the best, showcasing a terrific amount of lovely film grain that is well resolved without swarming or clumping. This gives way to rich detail in the background that is more crisp than ever before. You can also look at some of the clothing and pick up more distinct texture now. It is when we get into the heavier special effects where some may be disappointed due to the slight degradation in quality. These composites just are not built to have the same resolution as the native footage, even if they look the absolute best they can. In the new interview with Kuras on this disc, she goes deeper into the different filters she applied to create the different levels of dream-state and memory which render the film intentionally less than tack-sharp.
The UHD disc contains very deep, stable colors throughout which stay more natural to the environment rather than amping up the vividness. The Dolby Vision presentation allows the film to appear more refined than ever, keeping the desaturated color palette intact rather than boosting unnatural primaries. White levels are brighter and offer a greater stability without veering into blooming. Black levels are extremely deep and allow the picture to maintain an excellent amount of depth and detail in darker environments. Skin tones look natural and the clarity of the transfer gives you an impeccable amount of facial detail. With the upgrade to 4K also comes the added benefit of better compression, as this film is allowed more room to breathe on the disc with a healthy encode. Some may not find the upgrade to 4K to be a monumental leap for this particular title, but the improvements are apparent and definitely worth it for those who count it among their favorites.
This 4K UHD Blu-Ray release boasts a DTS-HD 5.1 lossless track that seems to be carried over from the previous Blu-Ray that still impresses. This disc perfectly brings this dreamy story to life with a depth and clarity of sound that is staggering. As the characters move throughout the world, the sounds of the environment flow out of your side and rear speakers. Each sound is precisely placed with perfect spatial awareness. The track engages all of the channels with sound effects and ambient noise that really makes you feel like you are in the thick of a memory.
Kinetic sequences are sparse, but the film sports a dynamic sound design that comes through flawlessly. The implementation of environmental effects such as loudspeakers and murmurs from crowds come through in a natural way. There is a decent amount of activity in the low-end, but mostly when it comes to adding texture rather than stealing focus. Dialogue comes through clearly without getting muddied by the score or any sound effects. The tremendous score utilized in the film comes through with a pleasing fidelity. Kino Classics knocked it out of the park with this track, so those with a good surround sound setup should have a blast with this one. There are English SDH subtitles provided.
- Audio Commentary: Director Michel Gondry and Writer Charlie Kaufman give a fascinating, if not a bit quiet, commentary track that offers a lot of behind-the-scenes details and anecdotes that are worth your time. These are two of the most creative minds in modern cinema, and you love to hear them bouncing off one another.
- Memory Light – Interview with Cinematographer Ellen Kuras: A new 19-minute interview with Kuras in which she discusses her excitement in working with experimental filmmaking, her collaborative process with Michel Gondry, the decision to go with handheld cameras, using the conceptual idea of memory within the actual camera movement, creating her own filters for the camera, working with her crew and more. This is a terrifically detailed piece which is an excellent addition to this disc.
- A Look Inside Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: A nearly twelve-minute look at the film with the cast and crew in which they discuss the unique nature of the film, the unrecognizable performance from Jim Carrey, the fun on set and more. All of the cast members hold a special place in my heart, so it is nice to get some of their insights here.
- A Conversation with Jim Carrey and Director Michel Gondry: A 16-minute discussion between the two in which they talk about difficult moments from the shoot, the themes of the film, the production design, the unexpected surprise of the elephant parade and more.
- A Conversation with Kate Winslet and Director Michel Gondry: A 14-minute conversation between the two that is very lighthearted and fascinating. They have a wonderful friendship that shines through here while digging into many anecdotes that are exactly what you want to hear. I could listen to these two talk for hours.
- Inside the Mind of Director Michel Gondry: A 20-minute look at the dynamic sensibilities and style that Gondry brings to his work. Few directors play with time and space in the way that Gondry does, and how he employs practical effects is impressive. This one is well worth watching!
- Anatomy of a Scene – Saratoga Avenue: A 17-minute look at one of the most ambitious scenes in the film. The cast and crew give a detailed breakdown of the sequence that makes you appreciate what they pulled off even more.
- Deleted/Extended Scenes: 26 minutes of unused material including several scenes with Ellen Pompeo as Joel’s former girlfriend, Naomi, longer scenes between Joel and Clementine and more. There are a ton of great moments in here that are worth seeking out.
- The Polyphonic Spree “Light and Day” Music Video: The three-minute music video is provided here using clips of the film with creepy superimposed mouths singing the lyrics over the actor’s mouth. I love this song, but this is unsettling.
- Lacuna Infomercial: A 30-second commercial for the fictional memory company from the film.
- Trailer: This disc provides Trailer #1 (1:38) and Trailer #2 (2:06) for Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind. There are also trailers provided for Man On The Moon and Jude.
Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind is truly one of the most inventive and emotionally devastating films to be released into the world in the past couple of decades. The story does not seek to be manipulative, but the grace and honesty with which it treats interpersonal relationships can deal quite a blow all the same. Carrey has rarely been better, and Winslet really gets a chance to show a more whimsical side than we expect from the actress. Things would be much better if more movies like this were given a chance to be made. Kino Classics has released a 4K UHD Blu-Ray featuring a really strong A/V presentation along with a terrific array of special features. This is one that every film fan should have in your collection. Highly Recommended
Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind is currently available to purchase on 4K UHD Blu-Ray and Blu-Ray.
Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the 4K UHD Blu-Ray.
Disclaimer: Kino Classics has supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.
Dillon is most comfortable sitting around in a theatre all day watching both big budget and independent movies.