What if you could erase all your bad memories?
Charlie Kaufman’s brilliant script for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is pure poetry on film as it explores this very question with its two leading characters – Clementine (Kate Winslet) and Joel (Jim Carrey). There is nothing that compares to the artistry of this film; It exists in a global sphere outside of all other films. It defines originality and creativity.
I saw the film for the second time only recently and I grew even more fond of it, with the help of Mr. ShuGar’s guidance. It’s as if you are opening a present and unraveling all the layers to get to the best part. With Kaufman’s words, you are transported into a world where dreams and memories hold so much value and power, yet with one simple decision, they can be eradicated from your brain.
When I first saw this movie, I felt a little lost. As in many of Kaufman’s films, they are not linear, not traditional. However, once I understood this and let go of my preconceived notions of what a film should do, I was immersed in Clementine and Joel’s love story. It’s so relatable – it’s the story of many relationships. When you first meet, everything is great. Passion abounds, all seems fresh and intriguing as you begin to fall in love with your partner. Yet, as time passes, things you used to love about the person may become stale – they no longer capture your attention in a positive way. Instead, you feel annoyed when your partner does that thing s/he does. Worst case scenario, your love rots and the relationship is doomed.
Joel: I don’t see anything I don’t like about you.
Clementine: But you will! But you will, and I’ll get bored with you and feel trapped, because that’s what happens with me.
Eternal Sunshine begins right at the cusp of the stale-meets-rotten stage of Clementine & Joel’s relationship. The movie intercuts between the “first” time they meet and the current unraveling state of their relationship. Clementine, staying true to her impulsivity, decides to go through with a medical procedure to eradicate all memories of Joel. Joel, in response to Clementine’s drastic behavior, proceeds with the same procedure. This leads to a series of events where you watch Joel’s memories slowly fading away, while Joel and Clementine are desperately trying to cling on to any remnant of their love.
This movie is a visual feast for the eyes – it captures memories in the quirkiest ways. Not to mention I am obsessed with Clementine’s hair! Oh, I just adore the nicknames they each have for each other – to Joel, Clementine is “Clem” and to Clementine, Joel is “Joely”. You know you have reached a level of intimacy when you have unique nicknames for each other. As if the movie needed any more greatness, Jon Brion’s music is perfection. “His music also conjures a mix of sentimental memories with surreal qualities.” (Mr. ShuGar’s two cents!) Thanks to my uncle, I discovered the genius of Jon Brion years ago. I believe you can still see him live in LA these days. Brion provides the perfect score to depict the agony and splendor of love.
One of the fundamental issues raised in the film is this idea of loving the good and accepting the bad when it comes to memories. We can’t always have heavenly moments in life; life is filled with those times when you cry, you hurt and you regret, especially when it comes to relationships. Crying, hurting and regretting sort of come with the territory. Yet, they are a part of you. Without them, you would feel empty because these memories have shaped you.
Embrace the eternal sunshine in the life you lead. It’s all yours and you’d miss it if you didn’t have it, even the tiniest memory of your life.