Video Auteur Michel Gondry Goes From White Stripes To ‘Eternal Sunshine’

Flick by 'Adaptation' writer stars Jim Carrey.

Michel Gondry — director of innovative, eye-popping videos
such as his latest for the White Stripes, “The Hardest Button to
Button” — isn’t resting on his creative laurels. He’s putting the
finishing touches on his second feature-length film, “Eternal Sunshine
of the Spotless Mind.”

“For me, it is very important not to repeat myself — go to a
place I haven’t been [creatively] before,” Gondry said at the New York
edition of Resfest, which closed with a retrospective of his work. “If
the project is challenging, then it is more interesting personally.”

“Sunshine,” a dark psychological comedy, is set for release on March 19
and reunites the auteur with idiosyncratic “Adaptation” screenwriter
Charlie Kaufman, who penned the original script for Gondry’s feature
debut, “Human Nature.” The movie stars Jim Carrey, Kirsten Dunst,
Elijah Wood and Kate Winslet and concerns a man who elects to undergo
an experimental surgery to have his memories removed after his
girlfriend does the same.

“[Kaufman's] scripts had a lot of recognition [initially], but people
never dared to make them,” Gondry said. “Spike [Jonze] and I were the
first ones to give [Kaufman] a chance. So now I think he feels safe
working with us.”

While Carrey and Winslet play estranged lovers, veteran actor Tom
Wilkinson (“In the Bedroom”) portrays the doctor who ascribes to the
motto “ignorance is bliss” by erasing his patients’ unhappy memories.
Elijah Wood and Kirsten Dunst play Wilkinson’s technicians.

A mock advertisement Lacuna Inc., the company headed by Wilkinson’s
character, can be found at TARGET="_blank">lacunainc.com. Much like the fake voicemail that
Paul Thomas Anderson created for Tom Cruise’s misogynistic character in
“Magnolia,” the site purports to be for a real medical firm that can
help visitors book mind-erasing procedures.

While Gondry has worked with plenty of A-listers, there is one star who
keeps alluding him: Michael Jackson. “‘Butterfly,’ I think, is one of
[Jackson's] best songs ever, and I’ve asked millions of times to do a
video for him [for that song],” the director said. “I’ve even said I’d
do it for free, and I get no response.”

Ultimately, it may matter little, as Gondry — who has lensed six
videos for Björk and three for the White Stripes — has a
fondness for sticking with the same creative peers. After he’s finished
with “Sunshine,” Gondry will once again work with his “Human Nature”
stars Patricia Arquette and Rhys Ifan on his third feature, “The
Science of Sleep,” which will also include Drew Barrymore.

“I like [forging] relationships with artists where you build a trust
that is comfortable and you can both grow,” Gondry said. “Without it,
you have to convince people that you understand their artistic
intentions.”

Based on a story he wrote, Gondry said “Sleep” would be aesthetically
more akin to his video work and described the plot as concerning “a man
who learns to manipulate his dreams and then ends up being trapped in
them.” The film is set to start production in 2004.

In the interim, a DVD compilation titled “The Work of Director Michel
Gondry” will be available on October 28.