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Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

I revisited a favorite of mine a couple of nights ago, and was supposed to do a thought piece about it. Apparently I haven't written a review for the film just yet, so I'll try to be coherent as possible. The film didn't waver in terms of its flawlessness. It was still interesting, and the flow of the film was still great. The emotions I had when I first saw this, it was still there. The effect of the film was still there. So I'm just going to dive in the review, if you don't mind.

The film revolves around the romance of Joel and Clementine. We get introduced to them in two scenarios, but in a gist, they were in a relationship and they broke up. When Joel was trying to woo Clementine back, he was surprised on how cold she acted upon seeing him, as if he didn't exist. He eventually finds out that Clementine had a procedure done, in where she completely erased Joel from her memories. After some time, Joel decides to undergo the same procedure, which culminates at the night before Valentines Day. 

The focus of the story is divided into two: one being the concept and the possibilities it can provide, and the effects if one goes through the procedure. Joel decided on the procedure because he was too hurt with what happened between him and Clementine. This suggested that Clementine might have been his big love, this love so painful that he seems to stop functioning as a human being. Clementine entering his life allowed him to live, and as the relationship progressed, so did their feelings for each other. Their personalities certainly clash, but they have managed to make it work. And yet, despite all that pain, when he revisits his memories with Clementine, he desperately clings to them, so desperate that he's willing to wake himself, to bury her in the deepest darkest corners of his mind. He loved her too much to be able to let go, he just wanted their memories, even if he loses the possibility of getting over his heartbreak.The film also showed that he was an unusual case, which then brings to point - should there be a state of mind where one should go with the operation? To just fully give in to the erasure - or have they experienced something similar to Joel, trying to cling on to those last bits before it disappears, changing their minds as the process progressed?

The concept is still fresh - as the film progressed, it allowed us to think of the certain possibilities if such technology would have existed. To be honest, I love for the technology to exist. To be able to wipe certain people away from your memory allows you to have a fresh start, to remove the scarring that the person might have caused in your life. The film applied it in a romantic setting, to remove heartache over a break up. I think that it would be beneficial not only to those concerned in a romantic setting, but in other situations as well. The film showed a certain flaw in the technology - that will power can change bits of the outcome, that it can disappear into the system, hence it offers a certain repercussion if such technology existed. I could go on and on about the cons of the technology, but the concept as a whole, seems like a good idea. 

Jim Carrey marks a turn for a serious dramatic actor. As we watch him go through the motions of having and losing Clementine, not once do we see the desperation leave his face, or that sense of panic when she disappears, that relief feeling when he sees himself with her. He was great in the role. Kate Winslet also took a great character in Clementine, with her outgoing, free spirit facade, but is able to show vulnerability at her intimate moments with Joel. I could have not pictured both actors to work together, but they did. 

Along with Joel and Clementine, we catch a glimpse of the team behind the extraction, and how they have been using the technology to their benefit. There's Patrick, played awkwardly by Elijah Wood, who seemed strange at the start, but we get to see his participation in the film. There's also Harold, played by Tom Wilkinson, Stan, played by Mark Ruffalo and Mary, played by Kirsten Dunst, who also had a direct connection with the technology as well. Sure their involvement may have just been there for the film to move forward, but I think they're a bit of importance because they represent the long term aftermath of the procedure, Mary, in particular.

I like how Gondry paced the film. He never stayed too long, or too short, though I really didn't appreciate the flashlight-looking shots, but it did give the screen its focus. Most of it was on Joel's point of view, but I like how he incorporated little bits of present Clementine as well. It showed that maybe there are still parts of Clementine that hanged on to Joel, and her relationship with him. I thought that it was well-written. I like how there's an inclusion of Joel's subconscious, allowing him to have real time conversations with Clementine, even as the process of erasing her in his mind was progressing. I usually don't like open endings, but the film could work with one, as it allows the possibility for the audience to conclude the story between Joel and Clementine for themselves, to make that decision after watching everything the characters went through. Still, I won't argue about its ending. 

I think people should see this at least thrice in their lifetime (though it's a favorite, so who am I to dictate how many times you should see it?), and it helps if the person is in a different stage in his/her life, because the perspective about it will change. Since the film was in a romantic setting, I'm going to reason based on that. Your relationship status might play a factor if you were to think of the concepts possibility - and if you will partake in it. Let's say that nothing major has really happened to you, so to be presented with the concept, there's a possibility that it might pique your interest - what if this really existed? If you were in a relationship of recently hurt, your perspective on the concept might change. However, it still doesn't dismiss the beauty of the film. 

Lastly, I have to ask: if the technology would have existed, would you take the procedure? Would you remove all the pain, even if it included even just a tiny bit of moments that have made you extremely happy? Or will you wear your pain as a scar, as a learning moment or experience? Or will it depend on the situation you're in, romantic or otherwise? 

Final Word: Still flawless like the first time I saw it.

Cast: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Tom Wilkinson
Director: Michel Gondry 
Year: 2004


  1. I think I need to see the film to understand it all, but it sounds endlessly fascinating -- I'll get back to you when I have, I hope I love it as much as you do. Lovely review!

  2. Glad you loved it! Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is hauntingly remarkable. The feelings and concepts expressed behind the script of this movie hit so hard to home that it feels as though we are viewing our own love lives played out on display.

    1. The film was quite reflective that your opinion and thoughts on the concept behind it can change based on the kind of situation one is in. It really merits multiple viewings, and its message is something that isn't simply washed away by time.


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