Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind came out on 19th of March, 2004. Eternal Sunshine was directed by Michel Gondry, a very visionary director who enjoys making movies that mess with your mind. The movie begins with a cold opening, ranting on Valentines Day, being forgetful, office jobs, and Sand (it’s overrated, it’s just Tiny Rocks). We see our main character, Joel Barish (played by Jim Carrey) purposely miss his train to work to head to Montauk.
At the time it seems like a split second decision but we later find out the reason. He’s on the beach and discovers that he hadn’t written in his journal in over 2 years. On the beach he also sees Clementine Kruczynski (played by Kate Winslet). They don't really get to know each other till they are on the train. Clementine asks a few questions and it seems like this is their introduction to each other, but there are somethings off. Clem tells us and Joel about her hair colour (something I have written about later). Joel and Clem get off the train and Joel offers Clem a ride. She obliges and they head to her apartment where they have a few drinks.
After a quick title sequence we are back to the day before Valentines Day. Joel is telling some of his and Clems mutual friends about an experience he just had. Joel says that he was going to Barnes and Noble (where Clem works) and it seems that Clem has entirely forgotten him. Joel gets shown a card from Lacuna, Inc. saying that Clem erased all her memories of him. This is common in the world of Eternal Sunshine, it would be the equivalent of plastic surgery. Shortly after Joel decides to get the procedure done to himself.
The rest of the movie takes place inside of Joel’s Mind. We get to experience the memories of him and Clementine seemingly backwards (similar to Memento or Pulp Fiction) and we see the fall of their relationship before we see the start. Around half way through the movie, when Joel has already realized he can change what happens in the memories, he changes his mind about the procedure and realizes that he doesn’t want to lose the memories of him and Clementine. He tries everything he can to stop the procedure, attempting to wake himself up and hide his mental projection of Clem in other memories, but ultimately it doesn’t work and, in the memory where he first meets Clem, his mental projection of her tells him to go to Montauk.
We go back to the present when he meets Clem for the second time, both of their memories erased, and we see a conclusion to the B plot. The B plot in Eternal Sunshine is of 3 doctors (Mark Ruffalo, Tom Wilkinson, Elijah Wood) and their waiting room assistant (Kirsten Dunst) who work at Lacuna, Inc. During most of the story, we are lead to believe that Ruffalo’s character, Stan, and Dunst’s character, Mary, are in a serious relationship (or at least at the beginning of one), but we later find out that Mary has a thing for Tom Wilkinson’s character, Dr. Howard Mierzwiak. In fact. they have had multiple flings, but Mary doesn’t remember any of this due to her getting the memory wiping procedure after each time.
After finding this out, she decides to find her record and, in doing so, she releases all of the records to everyone who was ever a patient at Lacuna, Inc., including Joel and Clem.
The ending of the movie leaves the viewer at a loss for words. On the one hand it is quite satisfying seeing Joel and Clem getting back together, but. on the other hand, we know Clem’s personality, we know that time and time again she will get the procedure and time and time again she and Joel will fall for each other, seen in the line “Do I know you?” at the beginning of the film. The very last scene is them running on a beach, both looking a lot older, meaning that they have kept erasing their memories and starting a new relationship over and over again.
Whenever I watch Eternal Sunshine, I get a feeling that is the mix of pure Joy, A Nostalgia kick, and an Existential Crisis.
The movie is an overall happy movie, with a lot of hilarious scenes poking fun at the faulty way we remember the past. Some of my favorite scenes would have to be any of the scenes from when Joel was a kid and the scene from when Joel was a teenager (you will never forget this one!).
Watching the movie, I also feel a kick of Nostalgia. The Kick is both pleasant and heartbreaking (like the ending of The Fountain). This feeling reminds me a lot of when I was growing up (4-7 years old) and the way that things were so much simpler back then than they are today. The feeling of the Cold Opening and the shot of the corner of the house with a garden path on a rainy day just make me feel nostalgic for the past. Even the name “Joel Barish” reminds me of the early days of my childhood, watching Huckleberry Hound, PBS, Scooby Doo, and Peep in the Big Wide World.
But I also feel an overwhelming sense of grief. Grief not in the way I felt towards the end of Green Mile or the beginning of Up, but grief in the loss of innocence or the loss of happiness. I feel grief for all the memories I’ve forgotten or all the people I will never be able to see again. I feel grief for a simpler time in my life when I didn’t have to worry about Due Dates and Death. It was a time when things made sense. Even the H*cking score makes me want to cry in a pillow with Blanket Bear for all of eternity!
I really enjoyed Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind for these emotions, and the excellent filmmaking made the viewer feel immersed in the experience that is this film.
Something I noticed on my second viewing of the film was the significance of Clem’s hair colour. When Joel first meets Clem, her hair is green, known as “Green Revolution”. The Reason it’s called this is a “Revolution” signifies the end of something bad (maybe her previous relationship, it’s not important) and the start of something New (her relationship with Joel). Green also signifies Spring or a re-birth/start of something new. During most of the memories, Clem had Red hair, known as “Red Menace.” The Red in this sense signifies the Summer but more importantly Love. This is when Clem and Joel are having the most “intimate” part of their relationship. Clem then changes her hair to an Orangish Yellow color, possibly a mix of “Yellow Fever” and “Agent Orange,” which signifies the Autumn of the relationship, when the love starts to die. Clementine’s last hair colour is deep blue. This signifies the Winter or end of their original relationship when everything is dead. But, in her hair, there are patches of “Green Revolution” signifying, that much like the seasons, her and Joel’s love is an ever-changing cycle.
I love all the performances is in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I feel that both Winslet and Carry deliver excellent performances which show their maturity from the Silly Comedies and Melodramatic Rom-Coms. All of the supporting cast (Dunst, Ruffalo, Wood, Wilkinson, Cross, and Adams) were amazing and even some of the extras performances stood out (all the child actors were great)!
As I’ve said before, I felt that the writing and direction were great. Some of my favorite scenes would be the memories set in Joel’s mind: The Ice scene(s), The Cold Open, and the End. I would give it a 10/10.
“It’s incredibly haunting and sad”, Dr. Annilice Hayes, current Middle School Guidance Counselor at ASD says, “but I don't remember much, almost as if my memory’s been erased”
Dr. Hayes says that the film was extremely influential in Jim Carrey’s career. Sure, he had The Truman Show and even The Cable Guy which were challenging roles, but this was the first film to actually portray him as a serious actor.
Mr. Franks had a similar experience with not being able to remember the movie. “I remember watching it in High School or college”
We both agreed that it’s almost a genre blend. On the one hand, there are a lot of Romantic and Comedic elements. There are some Sci-Fi elements and some Dramatic elements. We both kind of considered it to be its own genre, an “Idea Film”.
“My Roommate in College was really into films” Franks says “and I remember thinking at the time how it was amazing how the film was able to get away with so much without being Cussy”
Movies such as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind are “Idea Films”. What I mean is the main character in the film is the Idea. In Eternal Sunshine that would be the memory wiping and its effects on people. Some other big idea movies would be Inception and A Nightmare on Elm Street (exploring dreams), The Fountain (a story that takes place over 1,000 years), Memento (Memory loss), Dog Star Man (basically abstract art), Trainspotting (Humans Relationship to Drugs), The Truman Show, Nothing, Hard Candy, Waking Life, The Butterfly Effect, In my Skin, Adam’s Apple, The Lake House, and almost all of David Lynch’s movie. Although not entirely, A Clockwork Orange and 2001: A Space Odyssey could also fit in this category and so could Fargo with its mockumentary style of filming. Spielberg and Tarantino have also dabbled in it for aspects of their movies and Hitchcock has made many movies about irrational fears! Heck, even Saw could be considered up for this, using Violence as if it were a colour of paint!
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in no way is the first of its kind, but it is considered to be one of the best!
I have always loved movies (especially horror). I'd say I'm a bigger movie nerd than most people, I don't just love film, I live film. At the age of 8/9ish I really appreciated film. When I was 9 I was even Steven Spielberg for Halloween. If you couldn't tell by my header my favourite directors are Steven Spielberg, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, James Wan, Quintin Tarantino, George Lucas, Tim Burton, M. Night Shyamalan, Frank Darabont and Wes Craven.