Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

October 17th, 2006 – 1:45 pm
Tagged as: Films

I think this film is going to start making me write reviews about any film I watch now.

I would classify this film as being one of my top 10 now (I don’t even know what my top 10 are!), however, the impact of this film in terms of the psychology, the concept and the storyline – this just left me speechless at the end.

I gave a telephone call at 11pm after watching this film to wandii (James Wood), who I know very well (that’s another story for another post). Anyway, I needed to tell someone non-female just so I could clarify a few things about the film.

I basically just said to him: “Watch this film.” and cut the line. That was my clarification. Not much of a clarifying aspect to it, but the point is, everyone should watch this film. It got a rating of 8.5 at imdb, which for those who are not aware of that site – it is THE biggest movie rating website there is on the Internet (hence the name – Internet Movie Database).

However, aside that, the film astounded me. I will attempt to outline the plot where spoilers are most likely to be mentioned, but watching the film is a completely different experience! I just need to put this out in words so I can come back and read this one day.

Joel Barish (acted by Jim Carrey) has an everyday job, working at his desk, waking up every morning to the same old routine (you don’t get to see him working at his desk though, but it just gives an idea of his personality straight away!).

His life is based upon writing in a diary. Everywhere he goes, he takes it with him, drawing pictures, writing notes, attempting to explain actions which he can’t explain, but more over, explaining what life is about from his perspective. Moving on a great deal through the film, he had a love life with a so called Naomi (who you don’t get to see – he just mentions about her), and explains how he wishes he could have the life he had with her, again.

With this in mind, it is obvious that he will meet someone. After strolling the day around several places (after deciding to call in sick for work), he spent most his time reflecting about how his life is so glum. His life is very anti-social. He prefers to be alone, express thoughts by himself, feels very introverted and doesn’t feel the need to get involved with everyday news/matters that concerns others.

However, he tries to involve himself more with these matters from time to time, but cannot find the courage to overcome them/succeed, e.g. falling in love with a woman.

Having noticed this girl (Clementine Kruczynski acted by Kate Winslet) at a beach he last stopped on, she too, has a similar mind set. She can’t decide what to do. Whether to approach him, wait for a smile, wait for a signal/greeting from Joel to allow for a closer encounter of one another or merely to forget about him because she’s “just like the rest and doesn’t have a chance at anything”. She too, feels in a similar situation as Joel, i.e. she is not worth the love from a man.

As time goes on, they introduce each other on a train having “coincidentally” bumped into each other. It was actually Clementine who decided to move in, as she could not resist the fact that she actually liked Joel. With Joel consistently making notes about his feelings of Clementine, he soon feels comfortable with her attitude.

The life of Clementine is very sociable. She likes to “live life to the fullest.” Therefore, the rest of the film is spent on the two of them expressing each others thoughts and how they are perfect for one another. But here is where the twist begins…

Joel waits in the car for Clementine after a day out, until he realises that she disappears. She was to stay the night at Joel’s place, but she had to drop off at her place to pick up a few things (a toothbrush…). This is where Joel breaks down.

After days of traumatic and unexplainable events, his opinions/feelings about her are being spoken to a couple (who are friends of Joel, just listen to him and don’t have a clue what to do!), but answers to his questions are still a mystery, as to why she never came back. Then the husband (Rob played by David Cross) decides to give him a message he had come across (he knew Clementine too, but only really by name).

The message was written on a business leaflet, outlining that “Clementine Kruczynski has had her memory of Joel Barish erased,” by a company called Lacuna Inc. (I just took a huge pause after that sentence and read about all the different happenings in the film, for 35mins on imdb. That site has everything!).

Anyway, back to the plot. Having found out that her memory was erased (he also encountered her at one point, only to find that she didn’t have a clue who he was), he could not handle it anymore and decided to have his memory of erased by the same company. After visiting the company, the secretary Mary (played by Kirsten Dunst) takes all details and informs him of all the requirements. Mary however, has her own story behind it all! She is a new employee to the business, who is willing to find out about everything to do with the memories.

So to cut to the chase of the twist, Joel finds out that he can’t handle the fact that she would just erase her memory, just like that. The film is now shot in the memory of Joel Barish, while the people who erase his memory are scanning his brain, trying to destroy all the parts of the memory about her. At the same time however, he’s confronting these memories within his mind and realising the truth behind why they broke apart.

It’s at this point in Joel’s apartment (where the procedure takes place), while unconcious he tries to save the memories he has left of Clementine, by moving the memories of her which he is encountering, to areas which he had never shared with Clementine before.

It was through this, an employee of Lacuna Inc. (mainly Frank played by Thomas Jay Ryan, but there were also others involved, including Mary (who was there to “learn” hehe – you’ll see for yourself ; ) )) who were trying to erase all traces of Clementine from his brain (as approval was given by Joel to do so)

Yet! At one point they did not have any trace of her in the parts of Joel’s brain according to the computer, as Joel was trying to force her to visit different memories for her to still be a part of him (read that again!). So he would be safe for a while as Frank didn’t know where to search, but it was still not sufficient enough…

With Frank not being able to trace them, he calls upon the director of Lacuna Inc. Dr. Howard Mierzwiak (played by Tom Wilkinson) to sort out the mis-haps of Joel’s memories. Further to that scene, Mary soon realises the truth about why she got involved in the business.

So, the truth? Well to start with, it was actually an employee at Lacuna Inc. that used the personal profile of Clementine as a method to obtain an attraction from her. The role of Lacuna Inc. is to gather all material to do with your memory, so they can pin-point the exact spots on the brain. Therefore, the need for the client (Clementine) to give personal details were kept on file.

Patrick (an emplyee of Lacuna Inc. played by Elijah Wood), used these details after she got erased, to obtain her lust for love, with him, i.e. Stealing love (which comes in the form of the diary, letters, notes, memories, pictures and any artefact that Clementine handed in to the company for erasing and most importantly, the tape recording all clients have to make) from one person (Joel) and using it to their advantage.

However, the reason for why she had her memories erased of Joel were due to the forthcoming events she perceieved as being “boring” (with Joel) and she didn’t know what else to think of him (having spent ages with him). She was merely wanting to get on with life, while Joel was taking things too slowly, i.e. too boring.

Unfortunately for Joel, while realising he has no more luck with her, while the audience experiences the loving memories of Joel and Clementine, he too realises that he cannot accept the loss of Clementine. He desperately keeps finding new words to say to Clementine, but they are only memories which keep getting erased by Frank.

Communicating with himself, inside his own mind, to only memories of Clementine were his only ways of keeping as many thoughts about her, until he found a way to keep her for real.

Finally, it is at this point, regardless of the memories, that Joel has proven to himself that he will never leave her. Having woken up in his apartment (all the Lacuna Inc. employees had left by the time he woke). He is aware of Clementine, and throughout the film Clementine’s “relationship” with Patrick gradually triggers more memories of Joel – to lead them each to one another.

Soon enough they meet, only to find the truth about why they WOULD leave each other. They listen to the tapes of their pre-recorded memories for when they would get their memory erased, as they were posted to them by Mary.

The story behind Mary was, she finally realises she had been through the procedure without knowing (she actually fell in love with Dr. Howard Mierzwiak before he erased her via the procedure); she came to realise it is the wrong way to live life and a business never to be carried out – even if you have the worst of memories.

Memories must live forever. Watch the film. Now.

1 Comment

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  1. Fiona says:

    I have watched this film. It was at the cinema, I just remember talking to my friends all the way through and occasionally watching some weird scenes. I do remember the kate winslet erasing her memory of wot ever his name was. cant remember why. ooo and i did like the fact that elijah woods was in it :D but yehhhh it was very confusin at the time and therefore thort it was crap. i’d hav to watch it again, then maybe i’ll understand sum of the psychology behind it, or wotever, u kno wot i mean. lol

    Comment made on October 20, 2006 @ 11:21 pm

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