Revisiting my Film Listography Book to use as I restart Movies of the Day at lyriquediscorde. The first list is “Favorite Films of All-Time”, a hard category to narrow down for a film fanatic like me. Like any list, it is always growing and evolving as I see new (or new-to-me) movies, and I know, like with any other list, it will always change over time. That said, there are forever favorites that will always be in the lists, especially the ones that reside in my Top 5.
So, for this list, and all the others in the book, I’m not going to narrow it down to a number. Instead, each day that I post I will switch to another “list” and share a movie from it. Sometimes it will just be a photo and a quote, sometimes it will be a movie scene or song accompanying it, and (time permitting) there will also be days when I’ll do a full review and/or a personal reflection on what the movie means to me. This flexibility will hopefully allow me to be able to keep up with (mostly) daily postings. Flexibility is hard for obsessive/perfectionistic people like me, but I’m trying to make healthy changes in that regard because I truly believe my perfectionism has hindered my creative output and kept projects from ever being finished. So, bring on the SFD (shitty first draft) mentality, the not so perfect-ness, the raw form, and the F word (flexibility, not the other one – wink).
Please note, most (not all) of the Movie Of the Day posts will have spoilers. You have been warned. Better to err on the side of spoiler, and only delve in if you’ve seen the movie featured.
Let’s start at the very beginning (or is it the end?) with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Hands up to any regular lyriquediscorde reader who didn’t know this would be my first choice?
Eternal Sunshine made its way to my number one movie spot the second the credits began the first time I saw it, and it has never budged from that top position since. I don’t think it ever will. It has everything I love in a movie. Love, the flawed and realistic kind. Time-travel/multiple realities/parallel universes (ALL my thing), complex and well-written characters, great cast, interesting/unique plot, and a stellar soundtrack. ESOTSM checks all those boxes off, and then some.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Written by Charlie Kaufman, Pierre Bismuth & Michel Gondry
Directed by Michel Gondry
Movie of the Day – Film Listography
“Favorite Films of All-Time” – Movie #1
“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.”
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is my forever favorite film. It touches on something in me that is almost impossible to articulate. Its impact often feels beyond words. I have always felt a deep connection/kinship with the character of Clementine (Kate Winslet). I relate to her in both good ways and bad. Sometimes there is so much raw truth reflected at me, in her character, that it hurts to watch. But, I keep watching because I’ve never found another movie that hits me the way this one does.
Most of the time Clementine and Joel (Jim Carrey) offer up a strange comfort to me. Comfort that makes me feel less alone in my own flavor of fucked up girl-ness. I get Clementine. I get Joel. I get what they have, what they lose, and what they fight so damn hard to hold on to.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a love story to me. The most real kind of love story. Perfect in all its glaring, messy imperfectness.
Flawed characters. Love that knows no limits. Love that persists despite seemingly impossible challenges, like erased memories. A story filled with alternate and intersecting realities. Impulsiveness, passion, confliction, loss, restlessness, joy, bliss, forgiveness, and love. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind speaks to my persistent nature, my hopelessly romantic side, my restless nature, my ever-changing moods, and the ways I’ve been broken, and pieced back together by love, life, and self-reliance.
Eternal Sunshine gives us a close-up study on loneliness, too. Loneliness pervades every character, and at times directs their decisions.
We are shown Joel’s loneliness from the start, his grief, and his somber solitude. When he says “Why do I fall in love with every woman I see who shows me the least bit of attention?” he is illustrating his own loneliness and self-doubt. I think in many ways Joel feels invisible, and he is desperate to be seen.
Clementine runs from loneliness, trying to keep just enough steps ahead of loneliness so it doesn’t touch her (even though, I believe, it is a big part of what fuels her running). She changes her image, she erases Joel from her memory, she exhibits many markers of borderline personality disorder (another reason I relate so strongly), especially in her need for attention and love, even though she shoves it away so much of the time. And her deep-seated fear of abandonment.
Loneliness is weaved into all of Clementine.
Another thing to contemplate about Clementine. I’ve seen references to Clementine as being a “Manic Pixie Dream Girl”, a descriptive that has some personal pain to it for me. I know in my life I’ve tried to be that. Maybe not exactly Manic or Pixie, or a Dream Girl, but I’ve tried to be the “Cool Girl”, the kind referenced in the book “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn. Thing is, that kind of fake self cannot be sustained, and I think eventually the “Girl” in that facade fights it, resents it, and runs from it. I think if anything Clementine is seen as an “MPDG” by Joel, at first, and maybe for a while, but that shatters and she pushes back at it and eventually runs. I think at the end, when they are face to face in the hallway, after hearing on the tapes what became of them once, it is impossible for her to ever be anything but Clementine. I think if anything this film takes that notion of an “MPDG” and lets us see it fall apart.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind ending
What happens after the credits roll? Do Clementine and Joel survive? Do they live to repeat the same mistakes that had them trying to erase each other from their memories? What happens to Mary? Does she leave town, change her name, try to forget and move on? What about Patrick and Stan? Is Patrick running a Pyramid scheme business? Is Stan working in a Psychologists office, or in some other cutting edge, scientific field? Did Dr. Mierzwiak retire?
We can answer these questions in our imaginations? If you are like me, I root for Clementine and Joel to make it. And maybe you hope Mary finds something she doesn’t need to forget about later. I know I do.
What I know for certain is that Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind will always be my Favorite Movie and that each time I watch it I see and feel another something, and I start thinking again about layers of the story, and how it relates to me, to life, and to love.