CLASSIC FILM CORNER: ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’

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By Isaac Furman

The 2004 romantic sci-fi film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is not an easy movie to understand. It’s the kind of film that takes multiple viewings to fully grasp.

The story centers on Joel Barish (Jim Carey) and his decision to undergo a futuristic procedure that will erase every memory of his ex-girlfriend, Clementine (Kate Winslet).

A large portion of the movie takes place inside Joel’s memories. As the audience travels through Joel’s mind with him, they learn more and more about his relationship with Clementine.

There are secondary stories as well, such as the relationships between the co-workers at the memory-erasing company. At first, these side stories seem trivial, but as the movie goes on they grow in importance.

Even after the procedure begins, Joel is wrestling with whether he actually wants to have his memory erased or not. This is what makes the movie so thought provoking. You are forced to put yourself in Joel’s shoes and think about if you would want that procedure.

The film doesn’t try to sway the audience one way or the other; however, it simply shows what might happen if that kind of technology did in fact exist.

Eternal Sunshine is a movie filled with rich characters and a dense, deeply layered storyline. At times, it can feel like the director, Michael Gondry, is intentionally trying to confuse the viewer.

The story is told out of order, and some details are intentionally left out.  It can be easy to miss a few key moments, and then be perplexed when they reappear again. But watching the movie closely produces a very rewarding feeling. The plots brilliantly weave together to create a beautiful story.

Although Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was made just seven years ago, it became a classic as soon as it was released. It changed the way stories could be told.

And by trusting the audience to pick up on the little things, Gondry created a movie that was both intellectually fascinating and gut-wrenching.

It could certainly be classified as a “weird” movie, but if you’re looking for something a little offbeat, I highly recommend it.

 

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