Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot.
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind.
Each prayer accepted, and each wish resigned
To say this is one of my favorite films would likely be an understatement, I actually wrote briefly no this back in January. When this came out in 2004 I remember while in college ordering the movie online seeing as how it didn't receive a wide release.
But the nuance of the story overall, the introverted oddity of Joel to the extroverted quirkiness of Clementine and the concept of erasing someone from one's memory to remove the pain and humiliation that was caused throughout that time in the past, a concept that likely many may consider a few to actually pursue. But the potential of performing such a procedure though would raise questions is considerably understandable.
To be fair the character of Joel is one I truly empathized when I first saw the film many years ago, and after viewing the film multiple times since then Joel is a character I can come close to relating to, as terrible, odd, or unfortunate as that may seem. I truly empathized and understood the character and the concept of feeling trapped and looking for something or someone that could serve as an escape. Where I've been Joel, I've also met my Clementine, someone that has had their own flaws but pulled me away from me so to speak.
I have an understanding of the moments in the past and how they essentially shape an individual however I also understand the desire to remove those moments from one's memory. The chemistry between Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet was something enjoyable to see, considering the character he was playing at the time it was new and in many ways refreshing that he stepped away from the persona of heightened lunacy and into something more nuanced.
The same goes for Kate Winslet, considering that around the same time I watched and fell into the grasp of this film I also watched her in Finding Neverland and yes, many actors take roles that go from one extreme in a sense to the other but seeing her as Clementine was exciting. She unveiled a sense of energy, compassion, vulnerability that echoed Joel's but in a considerably different way.
Their encounter though odd in the beginning made more sense as the film carried on, as we get to see their highs and lows through Joel's memories I've been curious of what the angle would have been had we gone into Clem's mind as well. Would Clem have tried to hold on to the moments where she was taken away to a place she rarely experienced or more along the lines of wanting to forget the entire experience.
The supporting cast was truly interesting, Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood, Kirsten Dunst, and Tom Wilkinson make up the rest that work for Lacuna Inc, the company that provides the service of removing memories from willing customers. Though they're not simply there as support, they serve the story in interesting ways that bring a lot to light.
Understandably the statute of limitations of spoiling this film has long passed, I'd rather not completely spoil some of the revelations that come to surface. Nonetheless the supporting cast adding their own mix of quirkiness, complexities, and charm, something at first I wasn't too sure though as the film went on came to be something that was enjoyable.
The initial thought of wanting to remove memories of humiliation or simply bad moments from the past isn't ideal, though I'm sure comes across the minds of many, the collection and experiences of these moments could help shape who we eventually become or learn from and grow, the thought or desire of removing them linger.
The connections we all make from time to time, day to day, moment to moment become impactful in some cases, so impactful that the course of our day changes, the course of our life veers in another direction. Though in time these moments may take on a new shape later in the future, the events that take place remain. The events that may have helped us turn a corner that we may have never expected.
I think that my connection to Joel Barish, rather my understanding to the character is there are moments that can be torturous to the point of hoping to start over with a blank slate, while in the process of removing the pain and humiliation you also remove the moments of hope and desire, the ability to have a feeling that many yearn to experience and never do.
As much as I'd love to erase moments from the past I can only conclude it's best to keep everything intact. I've had a chance and continue to have chances to live, experience the highs and lows of life, love, and adventure (which can be life and love itself I suppose). Even as some may discard any and all momentos and others hold on to a few here and there, we still go through the process of wishing to remove past experiences while also clinging to just a few, the few that may have shaped us, or the few that make us think of happier times.
That became Joel's fight, coming to the realization that there are some memories worth holding onto, memories that you don't want erased.