Every now and again I try something stupid. I’ll admit, I know in advance, this is one of those times. But hey, I’m feeling festive. Why not try it and see what happens? Basically, I want to do a review on Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and I don’t seem to have time to watch, to write, to get it done. It is always the second or third movie on my list, and I’m never getting around to it. So I figured, heck, why not start the review even though I want to watch the movie again and I haven’t yet. My thought? Basically to do a minute by minute review of the movie. And write what I would write in my notes here, instead of in my notepad. If it takes a week, or two, to get through it? So be it. But I’ll continue to post my thoughts, and my memories about the movie as I slowly make my way through. Ok? So yeah, I don’t know either. But feel free to comment as I go. I will say this, it’s been almost 15 years since I saw the movie last. I know I saw it in the theaters when it first came out. I was pretty over the moon about the concept. But if I’m more than a little surprised at where this thing is going? It’s because it’s because I have children older than this movie. Just saying. But oh how I adored this movie when it first came out! Anyway, let’s try this – ok?
But yes. 100% Spoiler material all the way through. That should be obvious. And yet, we have caution warnings about the hotness of the beverages on the sides of coffee cups. So yeah. There’s that.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Walkthrough
00:00:04* – Immediately, I remember that this movie is told like 100% out of order and jumbled. Which makes this exercise complicated. By like a factor. But I’ll just document here my thoughts as I watch, and we’ll proceed with the timeline reconstruction later. (Already stressed out about this crazy stupid idea.)
00:03:58 – “I should get back together with Naomi.” this quote, like completely and totally derailed me. Why? Because I couldn’t remember any other woman in Eternal Sunshine than Clementine. So, I searched the Google for Naomi, and now I know why. Naomi was in the original edit of the film, but got redacted because of how it would make the audience feel about Joel. (Which, would be that he’d be a letch. A Romeo, like in Romeo and Juliet, moving from Rosaline quickly, to Juliet. A flighty letch. Feel free to watch this video if you’d like to know more about the edit. But phew. Glad to know I’m not going insane yet anyway.
00:10:45 – Joel and Clementine “meet” at the diner, and on the train platform… then officially on the train. Clementine introduces herself to Joel. And she is completely and totally insane! We know that Joel attaches himself to any female that looks his way and is kind. And we know from schizoid way in which Clementine turned every compliment from Joel into an insult she isn’t fairly sane. Which, I had completely forgotten from the first time I watched the film. It utterly spins what happens later on into a totally new light.
00:18:02 – Clementine talks Joel into having an ice picnic. They watch the stars and Clementine asks Joel which ones he knows. And Joel tells her that that one is Osidious the emphatic, its the one there with a swoop and a cross. (Which cracked me up, btw.) The next morning, Clementine asks if she can crash at his house, and while she is getting her toothbrush, Patrick (played by Elijah Wood) asks if he can help Joel. And Joel is thoroughly confused. And I’ll be honest, I don’t remember this at all. Or how Patrick is connected. Hrmmmm. Intriguing. And enter the 80’s looking title screen!
00:22:44 – WHAT?!? Oh man, I apparently don’t remember this movie well at all! Patrick is Clementine’s boyfriend? And . . . AH! I think I know what’s happening, I think this is after. Ok ok ok. (Taylor, remember, the timeline is all kinds of upside down chief!) Joel takes a drug of some sort, (anxiety meds?) And then he passes out. We then see Patrick, and Stan (played by Mark Ruffalo), come into Joel’s apartment with a lot of equipment. But we don’t know why. The next day, Joel goes looking for Clementine to give her a Valentine’s Day gift. But when he finds her at Barnes and Chernobyl, she has no memory of him. BUT! Patrick is there. And THERE IT IS! At 00:24:45, there is the card telling Joel that Clementine has had her memory of Joel wiped. But the fact that Clementine’s name fades from the card tells me that maybe Clementine did it to get back at Joel for already doing it.
00:29:30 – Joel goes and gets his things that are connected to Clementine from his house, and brings them in. The receptionist, (played by Kirsten Dunst) Mary, tells someone on the phone, “No, you can’t have the procedure done three times in one month. That it’s against their policy. But that they can fit her in at the beginning of the month. Which, is about as big a tell as humanly possible that Joel has already been here before, doing exactly this. 100%, guaranteed.
00:33:30 – The procedure works from the most recent memories backwards to the emotional core. And when you wake in the morning, they will be forgotten like a dream. “We’ll despose of these unwanted mementos, that way you won’t be confused later by their unexplained presence in your home.” Joel begins having the procedure done, and the memory skipping and brain chaos begins effecting his memories right away.
00:39:45 – During the memory wipe, we learn that the last time Joel was with Clementine, she told him that she wrecked his car. And it was this wreck that started the film out – actually Clementine ran into the fire hydrant. And it is here that we learn that it was when Clementine went in to have her memory wiped, that Patrick fell for her. And that he knows that Joel, who they are deleting right now, was the guy that she was dating and whom she deleted. (Talk about immoral! hahaha.) But they are setting Patrick up as the bad guy, clearly.
* – my timer is counting from the moment the very first image of Jim Carrey’s face hits the screen. In bed. Unshaven. If you’d like watch along with me, that’ll be your key.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Timeline
Need to insert my own view of the timeline somehow. Photosohop? Bulleted list? But I’m guessing 70% of the movie doesn’t even happen on screen.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Outstanding Questions
- If Clementine was maladjusted, should he not have fallen for her in the first place?
- When he is rewriting memories later and trying to insert her into his mind and not forget her, is he remembering her correctly? Or a more perfect memory of her?
- Question – could Joel have erased Clementine first? Or was it just a lark?
- If they are erasing each other over and over again, then this interpretation is a fairly fatalistic viewing of the film. We are trapped in destructive patterns (the erasing, being the destruction, not the relationship that led to the destruction) that we can never get out of.
- But if they only just erased once – and still found each other? That is romantic. Love overcomes all boundaries of science and logic.
Random Details You Must Do Something With: “Originally the script began with an old woman—later revealed to be Mary, Kirsten Dunst’s character—trying to publish a manuscript called Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, implied to be a tell-all about Lacuna. At the end of the screenplay, we discover that Mary is still working for Howard (who’s very, very old), and that Clementine has had Joel erased from her memory at least 15 times over the decades.
SECOND OLD WOMAN (CLEMENTINE) Well, I met this man, Joel, three years ago at a senior dance… We’d both been alone for so long and…
And reading the script, we see that Mary had a relationship with Howard (the doctor) but had her memory wiped. Its even mentioned in Mary’s tape that Joel plays in the movie. We also know that Stan benefits from this wiping, because until that time Mary wasn’t interested. And during the film Stan gives Patrick a hard time for benefiting from Joel’s wipe from Clementine’s mind, which now seems duplicitous at best.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Explained
Probably need a primer section of this post. Eventually. Love conquers all or something kitschy.