Film Journal: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

dir. Michel Gondry

This journal was originally written on April 24, 2015 for a high school English class assignment.

Meet me in Montauk.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a romantic sci-fi movie released in 2004. It’s about the story of an introverted guy named Joel Barish (played by Jim Carrey) who is broken after knowing his impulsive girlfriend Clementine Kruczynski (Kate Winslet) has erased her memory of him and decides to do the same thing to her. Named after a quote by Alexander Pope, this movie is brilliantly directed by Michel Gondry and written by the amazing Charlie Kaufman. The movie won 1 Academy Award for the Best Original Screenplay in 2005.

It begins with Joel Barish who wakes up in funk one morning. He dashes to the railway station to catch up on a train which is heading to Montauk. Why is he going there? He doesn’t know. During his trip, he meets this girl Clementine and they feel the sense of having known each other. Is it just a sort of feeling or are they really knowing each other? Yes, they were, once. Turns out both of them have been through a process of obliterating a field of memory of each other with the help of this mind-erasing service company Lacuna Inc., consisting of Dr. Mierzwiak (Tom Wilkinson), Stan (Mark Ruffalo), Patrick (Elijah Wood) and Mary (Kirsten Dunst). Clementine who feels bored with their relationship, goes to the company and asks for help to erase all her memory that is related to Joel. Joel finds this thing out and decides to follow the same process to forget this woman whom he used to love, but during the brain-damaging process, he starts to realize that this is not what he wants. He has this journey inside his mind during the mind-erasing process, where he takes Clementine out of his memory of her so they will be off the map and hoping that Clementine will stay on his memory.

This is a sweet romantic movie yet so complicated with its sci-fi thing as the major element at the same time. It sounds extraordinary when these two genres are summed up in precise measurement and so be this movie. While most romantic movies use pop and trendy themes as their main issue and media to deliver the story, Eternal Sunshine of Spotless Mind uses the idea of brain damage (which sound very scientific) to replace those ordinary themes to do so, in fact, this brain-damage or mind-erasing theme does fit in movies like Star Trek or E.T. much more, rather than in a romantic-drama movie like ESOTSM, but surprisingly it can perfectly fit in. Thanks to the outstanding work by Michel Gondry as the director here, he directed the movie very well by delivering the movie through the mind of Joel Barish, and that is what really gives this movie a strength.

One of the most powerful elements in this movie is (certainly) the screenplay writing by Charlie Kaufman. If you have watched his previous work such as Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, you are probably familiar with his genius writing. However, I believe that this movie is his best work. Very authentic and brilliant. Even though the movie may be very confusing for some people, especially because of the location set that is constantly changing and the time order that is so messily twisting, he and Michel Gondry structure the movie very well that we are still able to understand and feel the emotions of the movie by carefully following the path directed by them. And of course, the great cast ensemble really helps the build of this movie.

So many great things about love that you can learn from this movie. No matter how much up and down you have experienced in a relationship, your memory will easily recall the good things much more than the bad things, as we see from this couple, Joel and Clementine. Everyone can feel the “Eternal Sunshine of Spotless Mind” once the spots in our mind are removed.

I dare to say that Eternal Sunshine of Spotless Mind is one of the greatest movies of all-time. It does fit a wide range of movie fans, from those who love romantic-drama movies to those who like mind-twisting movies like Memento to sci-fi movies like Back to the Future. It is totally worth your time, you won’t be disappointed by anyone from the cast neither do any scene from the movie.

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