Classic Review: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each pray’r accepted, and each wish resign’d
‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ asks us to explore our past relationships and determine whether the bad memories are worth keeping for the good ones. It also explores the connection between individuals and how strong that bond would continue to be should they ever part ways only to cross paths again. Directed by Michael Gondry and featuring a screenplay by the twisted Charlie Kaufman, ‘Eternal Sunshine’ is a whimsical trip into the mind of Joel Barish who has been wiped out of his girlfriend’s mind.
Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) has had an interesting morning. After the most mentally trying night of his life, he awakens to find his car has been bashed. When he arrives at the train station for his morning commute, he suddenly gets this urge to travel; running down the stairs, he catches a train headed to Montauk, New York and doesn’t realize that perhaps he has done this all before.
Clementine Kruczynski (Kate Winslet) has had an interesting few days herself. After having Joel wiped from her mind, she has started a relationship with another man. This man seems to know everything about her from the jewelry she loves, to the sappy romantic pet names he calls her; he seems to be the perfect match for her, but she has also decided to take a train to Montauk that morning.
Upon their first meeting, the banter between these two characters is uncomfortable but they seem to have some kind of connection. Joel doesn’t seem like the outgoing type, so Clementine has to make all the moves to get the relationship rolling. They soon find themselves together in what seems like a new romantic encounter.
Eternal Sunshine has all the makings of a classic movie, featuring a fantastic score from Jon Brion and music from Beck. The cast is also uniformally brillant, featuring strong supporting roles from Kirsten Dunst, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Wilkinson, Elijah Wood, Jane Adams, and David Cross. The two roles that stand out the most are, of course, Carrey and Winslet. Jim Carrey is at his best when he takes on dramatic roles such as this or in ‘The Truman Show’ and Joel Barish shows the desperation in loss that we all feel when we’ve lost a loved one. Winslet, on the other hand, puts on an Academy Award nominated performance as Clementine, who is a free-spirited, live for the moment type of woman who seems the exact opposite of Joel. This is easily a case of when opposites attract because they couldn’t be better for each other in the film.
‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ takes a detour into a sci-fi world by asking the question: what would we do if we could have our memories erased? Unfortunately for Joel he soon finds out that no matter how much pain he thought he felt, when it comes down to it he never wanted to forget the time he spent with Clementine. He comes to realize the good and the bad events made him grow and love the relationship they had together even after it was gone. Although their memories had been erased, the existing chemistry between Joel and Clementine could still bring them back together again if they try hard enough. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind has a unique and fascinating story to tell and is easily one of my favorite films ever made.