You know how sometimes in life you find something that so deeply affects you, pierces your very soul, astounds you or changes you in some way? I experienced that back in 2006, a year or two after Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind came out. I hadn’t even heard of this film at this point. It was my second year at college, and as part of my Art and Design foundation degree, we had one day each week where we would watch a movie.
Sounds fun eh? It was, mostly. They were all movies chosen to inspire us, that deeply questioned issues our tutors wanted us to represent in our work, or arty ones that were slightly ‘off kilter’ in some way. I think this was a great idea, and found some truly inspired moments through those Friday morning movie sessions.
Anyway, I specifically remember sitting in the dark movie room with the rest of my class, as this movie began. It was nothing like I expected. I saw that Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet were the main stars in the movie, and so I had assumed a rom-com was on the cards. But from the moment this movie began I could sense it was something different. The opening scenes are melancholy, with a beautiful soundtrack, that continues right through the film and never fails to impress me. Carrey’s character is quiet, withdrawn and totally unlike anything else I’ve ever seen him in; and he plays it beautifully. Throughout the film, his subdued, sad narration sets a tone for a thoughtful and honest portrayal of love and relationships.
It’s hard to talk about what happens in this story to its fullest extent, without any spoilers or ruining some of the beautiful themes throughout this film. So I’ll keep it simple; This is a story of Joel and Clementine, and their relationship, and how one decides to undergo a procedure to erase the other person from their memory.
Heartbreak is something we can probably all relate to, and in this film it shows how we could completely erase the experience of heartbreak in one strange procedure. If you were left with your heart broken, memories that hurt, and living with pain; would you choose to erase it all? Wipe it clean from your memory so that it’s as if it never happened and you can move on? This film explores that idea.
Each scene is so beautifully put together; clips distorted, blurred edging and a seemingly random order of events. It all works together to create a true and fascinating representation of memory and loss, and how we experience each. The story alone is fascinating, but the way it is told and shown throughout this movie is a masterpiece.
I absolutely love Carrey and Winslet’s characters; Joel and Clementine are flawed, without being ‘typical’ movie characters. Winslet was encouraged to improvise throughout the film, as that is very much in tune with her character. While Carrey was told not to at all, as his character is un-spontaneous and reserved. I truly felt connected to Joel in his moments of pain, but I could relate to Clementine’s harsh and spontaneous behaviour.
Throughout Eternal Sunshine we are taken on a journey, through a relationship of two people, through Joel’s childhood, through his past experiences of hurt, love, shame. It’s so interesting to see how all these things affect the nature of the character.
The reason this is my favourite film of all time is because the characters, cinematic beauty, story and soundtrack are all absolutely beautiful. I can’t watch it all the time, because it almost leaves me a little exhausted; but it is so, so worth it when I do. I feel like it’s an experience everyone should have, which is why I wanted to share this post with you guys today.
When I walked out of the dark lecture theatre with my classmates that first day of watching this movie, I felt so inspired and like I was almost better for having watched it.
I really hope I can convince any of you who haven’t already seen it, to go do so.
And those of you who have already?
..Meet me in Montauk.