Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Director: Michel Gondry (2004)
Starring: Me, Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Elijah Wood
Find it: IMDB

Over the years, I have come to think of this humble blog as more than just a collection of silly movie reviews and Eli Roth/Twilight/Uwe Boll-hating rants (see also: love letters to Zooey Deschanel, Bruce Campbell or Timothy Olyphant); no, to me, it has become something of a diary - an excuse to use movies as a way to whine about my crummy life or talk about that guy I used to work with who made time travel rape lists and read The Sun newspaper, without shame.

Rarely has a review been so Big Brother Diary Room as this write-up of Michel Gondry's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which I watched following a particularly crushing break-up while also being named Joel and looking slightly like Jim Carrey does here. Viewing this film recalled that other Jim Carrey effort, The Number 23, in that I saw parallels - parallels everywhere!

Carrey plays Joel (which is also my name) - sometimes, affectionately known as 'Joely' (which is also what some people call me), a man undergoing a terrible break-up (something I have also recently undergone) with his girlfriend (which I also had!) who had dyed red hair (which she also... aw, fuck, you get the idea). Broken and depressed, he tries to wipe his every memory of his one-time girlfriend (which I also did, with whiskey) using advanced new brain-tinkering science (not whiskey). We enter Joel's memories, both good and bad, for better and worse, watching it all fall apart in a series of arguments and bickerings that will be painfully familiar to anyone who's ever been in a long-term relationship on the rocks.

With all this in mind, watching Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was either a really good idea or a really fucking awful one. Thankfully, although I did bawl like a baby, it turned out to be the former. This first-time watch (I know, shut up, I was busy with shit horror) of Gondry's unique, beautiful and fascinating movie emerged as one of the more therapeutic viewings of my life.

The film's been out for over ten years now, so don't worry, I shan't harp on about the (not even that subtle) meanings and messages that everyone has been dissecting since 2004. Suffice to say that it does a great job of emphasising its "better to have loved and lost" message, while also finishing on a note as hopeful or melancholy as you want to make it. It helps that it's brilliantly acted, from the lead pairing of Carrey and Winslet (the latter never better in my eyes) through to Elijah Wood (easily as revolting as he was in Sin City), a surprisingly good Kirsten Dunst and a young, likeable Mark Ruffalo. The story twists and turns, breaking and warming the heart in equal measures.

This review is about as subjective they get - it hit that many buttons for me - but I suspect I would have loved it even if it wasn't a film about me.


The Number 23, by the way, I re-watched the very next day, in an accidental serious-Jim-Carrey double bill. Fair to say that one wasn't such a transformative experience.

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