In Michael Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), the connections between people and memories become the focal point of a very unique romance. Through the use of new technology, the possibility of erasing memories makes painful relationships disappear like they never happened. The tale of Joel and Clementine allows the audience to rethink and question the process they undergo as beneficial or destructive. Though the process might be helpful in eliminating the pain caused from another person, four key scenes show how the lessons learned through relationship experiences are important.
At the start of the film, Joel Barish (Jim Carey) finds himself waking up in the morning from what appears to have been a deep sleep. With a sudden urge to ditch the train to work, he catches another train to Montauk on this cold, snowy Valentine’s Day. Both the weather and his personal appearance use strong symbolism for depression and loneliness. Despite his feelings, his attention is quickly captured by a brightly dressed woman that suddenly appears on the beach. To have come out of nowhere is “meant to suggest, unobtrusively, that she is not purely a stranger, that in some fashion she may already be known to him” (Toles 114). Though Joel is shy and too scared to approach her, the outgoing Clementine Kruczynski (Kate Winslet) becomes interested in the shy and quiet man on the train ride back from Montauk. As the two begin talking, the audience learns how very different the pair, as Joel comes off as dull and boring while Clementine is outgoing and fun. Once they begin getting acquainted with each other, attraction sets in and develops into a relationship of true opposites. When their relationship of a year goes sour after a fight between them, Clementine chooses to have Joel erased from her mind by a procedure. Joel, heartbroken after discovering what Clementine had done, chooses to have the same procedure done to relieve himself of the pain.
One of the first...
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