Oh Monday, we meet again, same place and time, but a different day. Let’s “forget” to remember those Monday blues and instead take a look at my favorite movie of all-time, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a movie that deals with forgetting and remembering love. It is a different kind of love story, one that has always resonated with me, even if I’ve never ventured into an alternate reality where a lost love has been erased.

If it was possible, to erase the pain of a lost love and the heartbreak that accompanied, would you? Or would you want to hold tight all the memories of the love itself, buying into the notion of “it’s better to have loved and lost…“?

In this installment of the A-to-Z Cinematic Love Story Series, we take a visit to the letter E, and the 2004 movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

1Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Written by Charlie Kaufman, Michel Gondry & Pierre Bismuth
Directed by Michel Gondry

Trailer

Everything about this movie gets to me, the cinematography, the music, the writing, the dialogue, the concept, the reveals, the pacing, the structure, the characters, the direction and the actors. Clementine (Kate Winslet) is one of my Top 5 favorite fictional characters of all-time. She is terribly flawed, and often not a good person, but she is also often someone who still loves in a big, all-encompassing way, a person who has hope and fears and makes mistakes, and is sometimes very rash. In all those ways I have felt a lot like Clementine in my life, and relate to her on an almost visceral level. I may not have ever paid to have someone I loved erased from me, but I’m not sure I wouldn’t have acted rashly and done just that if it were a viable, available option.

You know me, I’m impulsive.” ~ Clementine

That’s what I love about you.” ~ Joel

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Joel (Jim Carrey) is wonderfully flawed, too. The more compassionate one of the two, or at least the one the audience is geared up to empathize with. It is Joel’s POV we mostly see from, and his side of the heartbreak and relationship we see through. Because of this, I often think that Clementine is not fully understood in the same way that we can never fully understand another person, not when we have our own lens to see through. That said, I feel for Joel, and root for him through this. I honestly root for them both, always hoping they can find their way back to each other.

4The question has arisen in discussions I’ve been in as to whether Joel and Clementine should have gotten back together, and whether or not they would have stayed together. Are they doomed from the (new) start to repeat the same things that tore them apart before? Is Clementine too narcissistic to ever be good for Joel, who is more of an empath? Clementine states all her concerns and warnings at the end, to Joel, and he says okay, but will it be okay in the long run?

[last lines]

I can’t see anything that I don’t like about you.” ~ Joel

But you will! But you will. You know, you will think of things. And I’ll get bored with you and feel trapped because that’s what happens with me.” ~ Clementine

Okay.” ~ Joel

[pauses] “Okay.” ~ Clementine

1Perhaps I’m biased, feeling so akin to Clementine as I do, but I like to believe they made it work. That somewhere inside, even though one of them has forgotten their “past“, they will keep the memory of what it felt like to fail at love and lose each other, and they will do their best to stay together. Perhaps, too, the things that they loved about each other in the start, even when these things start becoming an annoyance more than an attractive quirk, maybe they will remember that those were some of the biggest things they missed about each other while apart?

Or maybe I’m foolish. I know I have been before. I tend to be so naive when it comes to love. Regardless, I’m going to stick with believing in them.

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What do you think?


with scenes from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

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