Dispatch from the Razor's Edge, the Blog of Michael Stephen Fuchs
The Spotless Storyteller
Clementine: This is it, Joel. It's going to be gone soon.
Joel: I know.
Clementine: What do we do?
Joel: Enjoy it.

     I just emerged from my second viewing of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I went with Peter, after our regularly-scheduled Saturday workout and run, to a matinee at the Prince Charles Cinema (the fantastic second-run cinema off of Leicester Square). I'd been awfully meaning to see this film again since I first did. I orginally went into it with low-ish expectations, as I'd gotten a mixed review from an, um, friend. But as it went along, I found myself falling more and more helplessly in love with it. Now, I was very keen to see how I'd react to it a second time – particularly the early scenes – knowing already of my great admiration and affection for it. (Also knowing the story, which would make the early scenes more sensible – and, as it turned out, more poignant.)

David Edelstein, by the way, Slate's film critic, and my absolute favourite reviewer since Janet Maslin retired at the Times, and an amazingly entertaining writer by the way, called it "best movie I've seen in a decade." Wow. (His review is well worth reading.) This both validated my feelings about the film – and, somewhat embarrassingly, increased them. So, anyway, I was very keen to see it again – and to see how I'd react.

Answer: Totally knocked out. The film is completely brilliant: genius writing, nearly perfect structure – and stealthily flawless rhythm (which I admit is more down to direction and editing than writing).

But as for the story. Man! Pardon me for telling you what you might have already figured out perfectly well for yourself; but it is a nearly perfect parable on love. Even knowing how it's going to turn out, that things will end in boredom and disgust and pain, that their relationship is doomed to failure from the start - the two of them choose to do it again! The message being that you can't think about the end going into love. You just go! The journey is the destination. Love doesn't fret about outcomes. And hope triumphs over all.

And as a parable on love, it's also a meta-parable on life: we all know how life is going to turn out, too - with death. But that doesn't mean it's not worth doing. We plunge in. We carry on. The quote at the top of the page encapsulates much of it – but not too heavy-handedly. (It also made me cry.)

At the same time, it's very funny indeed – much more so than I remembered it. The Lacuna technicians smoking a joint on Joel's bed, while nibbling out of a bowl set on his comatose form – though upstaged by them dancing on the bed in their underwear – is worth the price of admission alone.

Even the title's fantastic – the hook into the Pope poem works perfectly. (And good titles are a very big deal.)

Also, as a side note, in its aspect as science fiction, this is the best sort: it posits a counter-factual scenario and uses it to shed otherwise unsheddable light on the real human condition.

In summary: It's art, a true masterpiece. Kaufmann is a pure, inspired, and polished storyteller. This is the highest praise I can think of.

And that's what I think.


  film     storytelling     culture  
about
close photo of Michael Stephen Fuchs

Fuchs is the author of the novels The Manuscript and Pandora's Sisters, both published worldwide by Macmillan in hardback, paperback and all e-book formats (and in translation); the D-Boys series of high-tech, high-concept, spec-ops military adventure novels – D-Boys, Counter-Assault, and Close Quarters Battle (coming in 2016); and is co-author, with Glynn James, of the bestselling Arisen series of special-operations military ZA novels. The second nicest thing anyone has ever said about his work was: "Fuchs seems to operate on the narrative principle of 'when in doubt put in a firefight'." (Kirkus Reviews, more here.)

Fuchs was born in New York; schooled in Virginia (UVa); and later emigrated to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he lived through the dot-com boom. Subsequently he decamped for an extended period of tramping before finally rocking up in London, where he now makes his home. He does a lot of travel blogging, most recently of some very  long  walks around the British Isles. He's been writing and developing for the web since 1994 and shows no particularly hopeful signs of stopping.

You can reach him on .

THE MANUSCRIPT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
PANDORA'S SISTERS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
DON'T SHOOT ME IN THE ASS, AND OTHER STORIES by Michael Stephen Fuchs
D-BOYS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
COUNTER-ASSAULT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book One - Fortress Britain, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Two - Mogadishu of the Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : Genesis, by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Three - Three Parts Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Four - Maximum Violence, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Five - EXODUS, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Six - The Horizon, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs

ARISEN, Book Seven - Death of Empires, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Eight - Empire of the Dead by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : NEMESIS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Nine - Cataclysm by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Ten - The Flood by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Eleven - Deathmatch by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Twelve - Carnage by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Thirteen - The Siege by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Fourteen - Endgame by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : Fickisms
ARISEN : Odyssey
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