18. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Michel Gondry is a talented and distinctive director who has trouble finding material that plays to his strengths — he’s like Danny Boyle on methamphetamines. Charlie Kaufman is a creative but often overly cerebral screenwriter whose movies tend to garner critical praise but not much audience interest. They balance each other out in “Eternal Sunshine,” Kaufman lending gravity to Gondry’s whim, Gondry infusing Kaufman’s crazy ideas with emotional resonance and a sense of fun. Jim Carrey actually proves that, at least this once, he can cut the mustard as a dramatic actor and Kate Winslet slips easily into the Manic Pixie Dream Girl role (she’s done better work, but no loss) and Mark Rufalo, Tom Wilkinson, Kirsten Dunst and Elijah Wood round out a fantastic cast. At its rapidly beating heart, “Eternal Sunshine” is a film about human brokenness, romantic relationships, and the paradox of combining those two things. In the end, there is no princess, no knight in shining armor. There are only people who will hurt us in ways we can handle, and people who hurt us in ways we can’t.