Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

I saw “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” over the summer actually, but a few weeks ago I noticed it was in Netflix’s “Instant Play” thing so I decided to watch it again.  I’m so glad I did; even though I remember loving it over the summer, I didn’t remember why.  Consequently, I fell in love with this movie all over again (which is only fitting).

“Eternal Sunshine” is about a shy, cautious man named Joel, and his relationship with the impulsive but loveable Clementine.  It’s very hard to explain this movie because it’s told out of order.  Basically, after their relationship ends, Joel decides to participate in a service that erases all the memories he has that Clementine is in. That sounds pretty far-fetched written out like that but in the movie, it seems almost believable, even though they don’t bother wasting a lot of time trying to explain the process to make it believable.  You just sort of believe it because it seems so natural that there could be such a thing.   Anyway, most of the movie is taken up by that event, Joel’s memory being erased.  We accompany a sleeping Joel on his bizarre journey through his past with Clementine, seeing twisted versions of their past, in reverse order.  This entire part of the movie is completely weird but still somehow incredibly beautiful.  The different sets and the way the filmmakers are showing the erasing of memories is so interesting and unique, just like a memory would be.

Then there are the characters.  Three dimensional, real, and well written.  These are people we all know, people we ourselves relate to.  They’re also wonderfully acted by Jim Carrey – who I didn’t know was capable of such a performance – and Kate Winslet, who of course is as brilliant as she always is.  She was actually nominated for Best Actress for this role (though she lost to Hilary Swank for “Million Dollar Baby”).  The rest of the cast is riddled with other well known actors, who fulfill their roles perfectly.

I can tell that I’m not doing this movie justice, but it’s just so odd and lovely that I’m struggling to describe it properly.  In a way, it’s a lot like a memory in itself.  It’s difficult to really describe to somebody else unless they were  there experiencing it with you, and even if they were, it means something different to them then it does to you, so you both end up remembering different things about it.  Also, like the memories you hold about a certain person, the movie is told out of sequence, because no one remembers their memories in the exact order they took place in originally.  But it’s also very much like a dream; the settings are warped and people fall in and out as though they’re frequently falling through invisible holes in the ground and sky.  This movie is a lot about fear and cautiousness, but it’s also remarkably touching and emotional.  It’s somehow incredibly real, while being fantastical; exactly like a dream is.

Though I’d seen this movie before, I feel like I didn’t completely get it. It is somewhat confusing if you’re not paying attention at the beginning; it’s one of those movies that is more enjoyable if you remember details that you can connect to events that happen later.  So if you’ve  already seen this movie, I’d recommend watching it again, because I think this is the sort of movie that you could get something different out of every time you watch it, depending on the mood you watch it in.

My Londonderry NH net rating, 4 seeds.

Images Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind a Focus Features (c) courtesy

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