Watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind y’day again & was surprised by how much it still appealed to me. Most films that offer a twist in the narrative seem tedious on second viewing (a beautiful mind, memento, fight club, the usual suspects). Add to this the fact that Eternal Sunshine belongs to the ‘maze film’ tradition where seemingly disparate & random set of events r connected by either the characters or incidentals that change their life. While I enjoy taxing my grey cells occasionally, for me films like ‘memento’ r better understood than experienced, more interesting than appealing; Eternal Sunshine is both.
Jim Carey as Joel Barish, an introspective, shy guy who is more at home penning his thots in his journal than voicing them, who believes that Valentine’s Day is “a holiday invented by greeting card companies to make people feel like crap”, who falls for the wild & completely unpredictable Clemetine (Kate Winslet), is a surprise to all those who remb. him as Ace Ventura or a dumb moron. He decides to have memories of Clementine erased after he learns that she has had enuf of their tumultuous relatnship & has erased him from her mind. His doubts, fears & irritations r all our own as is his desperate endeavor to reverse the process of erasing memories, once he realizes that tho. it all ended badly, memories are all he has of Clementine, that even her memory is better than losing her completely. And that lends some meaning to life, for Barish at least.
In an age of fast divorces and the even faster need to move on, one wonders if totally erasing all memories of failed romances wud really make us happy? Isn’t acknowledgement of these memories essential for us to grow, evolve and accept?
Kate Winslet is spectacular & it’s a wonder that she comes across as refreshing and as alive as she does here. She is that lil girl who wants the candy, the daisies & a prince charming who will stand up for her, no matter what. She wants to be loved for her blue hair, bizarre clothes, outrageous comments, and the fact that Joel often finds her pedestrian, hurts her. She loves Joel but is frustrated by his avuncular bearing and dull lifestyle. I especially loved her in this scene where Joel says, “I don’t see anything I don’t like about you” & she replies, “But you will! You will, and I'll get bored with you and feel trapped, because that's what happens with me.”
Rarely has a love story been more tenderly told or in a wittier, racier manner. The pain of relationships ending forms the core of all great romances (love story, brief encounter bridges of
county) & yet Gondry uses none of the stock motifs that abound in these films. No death-bed monologues, no teary farewells at the railway station & hysterical outpourings of a mind ravaged by the lover’s separation. There r even times when u do feel that Joel is better off without Clemetine, that he’s too much of a stuck-up prick for a woman as vivacious & uninhibited as she is. Not once does Gondry suggest that these 2 r perfect for each other, comprise 2 incomplete halves of a whole, yada yada….. They have as much reason to stay tog or part ways as any of us & it’s the film's peculiar genius that it lets them make that choice without resorting to the usual ploys of romantic comedy. After all, Clementine does erase Joel frm her mind & both are unaware (at least initially) of their shared past & its joys & pains. There is no apparent reason for the 2 of them to be together, they even decide not to, & yet, inexplicably, try again. To look for reason in matters of the heart wud be a travesty of love. Love isn't built on reason, just like Russel Crowe says at the end of ‘A Beautiful Mind’: madison
“I've always believed in numbers and the equations and logics that lead to reason. But after a lifetime of such pursuits, I ask, ‘What truly is logic? Who decides reason?’ My quest has taken me through the physical, the metaphysical, the delusional -- and back. And I have made the most important discovery of my career, the most important discovery of my life: It is only in the mysterious equations of love that any logic or reason can be found. I'm only here tonight because of you. You are the reason I am. You are all my reasons.”