spirits that speak


Eternal Sunshine: What the Heart Remembers

Well, I have a friend. She may not realize that I still think of her as a friend, but I do. It's been so long since we've talked, but one thing that I know Shelly and I do have in common is that Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (possibly translated: "Ignorance is Bliss") is our favorite movie.

Well, I don't know if it's my absolute, number one, all-time favorite...but I don't see why not either. When someone asks you what your favorite movie of all time is, how do you answer that question? It's never easy. I prefer to think of my top 5 all-time favorites (a la High Fidelity), but...absolute favorite? Whenever I try to answer the question, and a title comes to mind, I always think, "No, that one doesn't really meet this criteria".

So, anyway, I think Eternal Sunshine... may possibly be the all-time favorite. Why? There are so many reasons that I like it (great cinematography, great story, it's possibly Jim Carey's most real and human performance of all time, great editing, etc.). But it also has that certain indescribable quality that I just can't quite put my finger on that makes me think there's something profound in it. So here's my guess at what that might be:

a) No matter what, there is no obstacle that two people in a relationship cannot overcome given some persistance and patienceThis is most demonstrated at the end of the movie. I won't spoil it for those who haven't seen it yet, but intend to. But it's the kind of thing that communicates some sense of hope to anybody who has ever been in a long-lasting relationship and has wondered how anybody ever makes something last more than a couple of years. I could go on and on about the divorce rate in North America, spouting statistics and philosophies, but I won't. I'm sure it's harder for some than for others, but really I'm optimistic enough to think that most anyone could do it if they exercise certain methods...one of which is named in the movie.

b) What the mind may forget, the heart never willThis, to me, is the most recent profundity I have gleaned from seeing the movie again just recently (for the 4th or 5th time). I actually wonder if it's not the better of the 2. Then again, there's a general vagueness about it that makes me think twice. There's something very cliched in how I am thinking about it, in that it's like "All emotions and memories are part of the broader human experience and therefore make a person who they are, so they are valuable" But, as Joel is getting memories of Clementine erased from his mind, out of spite mind you, his heart tells him it needs to stop because even a few positive ones make the other ones (perceived as negative) worth holding on to. It's an all or nothing package (at least as presented by the movie). Really, how can we pretend that something was good just because we decide to remember only the good times? Why can't we realize that it was good in spite of, but with acknowledgement to, the bad times?

I haven't communicated the second one well, these thoughts are all kind of spilling out onto the page as I write them, but I think the movie does a much better job. Essentially, for the second one, even though you try and possibly succeed in erasing the bad experiences you had in relationship to someone or something, your heart will always remind you that it's possible to love someone as a whole package. Why not? Some people treat you that way (though you may not see it).

As the last memory of Clementine is being erased, Joel's heart makes one final attempt to plant a seed that will survive the demolition, in the form of the Clementine that is still barely alive. It comes in the form of a whisper: Meet me in Montauk. If you haven't seen the movie, I would strongly encourage (no, shout at) you to obtain it, open your mind, and give it a chance. I believe it will hold suprises for you.


  • high fidelity; dude, i miss watching movies with you - that is one of the all time greats, i'll have to see it again. we need to visit, soon!

    By Blogger pxpaulx, at 08:26  

  • i agree, and it's completely understandable that you haven't been back more. i think we'd go down to see you more if we had more money.

    By Blogger johnny m, at 10:51  

  • I've never seen this movie - do you think I'd like it?

    By Blogger Shiny Beamer, at 23:54  

  • hey shiny. i'm going to say "yes" to your question. i'm actually 70/30 on whether or not you'd like it (i.e. leaning towards thinking you would).

    it's refreshing to see jim carey in this role, and i think you'd appreciate that. what you may want to keep in mind is that it's pretty blunt about the difficulties in relationships and can seem pessimistic about them.

    i don't think it would still be in new releases, though it may be in some stores, so you may want to try renting it since it won't be as much and the worst that might happen is you decide it's really distasteful and you stop watching half way through (though i never recommend stopping in the middle of a movie). the best that can happen is you find it's a really good film experience and makes points about relationships that you may not have thought about (in a positive way).

    i'd call that a recommendation, let me know if you try it!

    By Blogger johnny m, at 08:48  

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