I just watched a GREAT movie. Starring one of my favorite actors. “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” with Jim Carrey. If you haven’t seen it and are planning to, stop reading, cuz I’m going to wreck it for you.
“Today is a holiday invented by greeting card companies to make people feel like crap” (sorry, Doris). This was said in the opening scene by Joel Barrish, the main character, about it being Valentine’s Day. I agree with him. All of my significant boy-girl relationships have fallen in between Februarys. There’s one man whom I’ve known for a very long time who often sends me lovely bouquets on the day, but it is never with the promise of things still to come. He does so out of love for me, but it’s not loooooove, you know what I mean? So I’ve never had a really “satisfying” Valentine’s Day.
“Eternal Sunshine” is an allegory of sorts for what most of us do to one degree or another after a relationship ends. We try to erase the memory. Some people collect photos, notes and mementos and pack them away so they are out of sight. Some people collect that same box of stuff and burn it or otherwise dispose of it. Some people immediately jump into another relationship. Some people drink, or take drugs. Some even commit suicide. But it’s all in an effort to erase the memories that now seem to mock us and cause us pain.
Joel finds out that his girlfriend, Clementine, has erased him from her memory. He decides to undergo the same procedure. Most of the movie follows his thought processes during the procedure. The procedure starts erasing from the end of the relationship and then erases backwards in time. At one point in the process, he starts to experience the memories of when things were wonderful, and he has second thoughts about wiping her out. He attempts to hide his memories of Clementine in other areas of his mind where the procedure can’t find them. But ultimately, he fails, and all memory of Clementine is finally erased. However, he has a compulsion to return to the place where he first met her (planted there, just before the last shred of memory is erased when Clementine whispers “Meet me in Montauk”).
The morning after his erasure, while on his way to work, at the last moment, he runs from his train and jumps on a differnt train, the one headed for Montauk. And there on the beach, in the middle of winter, he meets this amazing girl, and they fall for each other. The girl is Clementine. It’s not smooth sailing as a disgruntled former patient and worker at Lacuna (the erasure clinic) finds out she was erased, and returned files and tapes to other clients. Both Clementine and Joel receive their files and end up hearing the awful things each said about the other. But they have started anew already, and they take the chance that they can get it right the second time around.
A simplistic message to be taken away from this movie as that through the process of loss we find out how we truly feel. While the movie is a little strange, and at times a bit hard to follow, the director used the frequent changes of hair color that Clementine underwent to help you follow the timeline. I don’t know what real critics said about this movie, but I give it a 9.