"Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a puzzle of a film, a fantastic Rubik’s Cube of memory, love, loss, and regret that collapses on itself only to become stronger in the end. It’s clever yet tender, a near impossible line to walk. It jumps off endless narrative cliffs and continually finds its wings on the way down.
We all carry so very much around with us—hope, fear, joy, sadness, compassion, jealousy, love, hate, patience, selfishness—in these tiny little brains of ours. We are often simply over-matched; bombarded by external stimuli, beset by endless internal monologues. Things happen to us and we hold on to them so tightly, gathering them up to create the memories that will eventually tell us all about ourselves, about who we are and where we’ve been. Our mind keeps all these things, an infinity of moments, and spins them into stories. And, in such a way, do we all literally create our own lives.
But what if that weren’t so? What if there was a loophole, a short cut, an eraser of sorts? What if one could stretch out that great plain of memory and somehow extricate from among its many tangled branches a perceived thorn? What if you could forget - forever- that embarrassing moment, that traumatic event, that big regret? What if you could erase from your mind the girl that broke your heart?
Joel: Is there any danger of brain damage?
Dr. Mierzwiak: Well, technically speaking the procedure is brain damage.
Clementine erases Joel impulsively, after a late night argument, both of them at their very worst. Joel erases Clementine, initially, out of misguided revenge: if she did it, I’m doing it too. Soon, though, there will be no one left to remember the years they spent together.
Oh my darling, Oh my darling, Oh my darling Clementine / You were lost and gone forever, dreadful sorry Clementine.
There is within us all an aching need for connection. A buffer against the vast existential winds.Another person to cling to, to help fill the void, numb the pain, and ease the loneliness. As a writer, Charlie Kaufman has always understood this. For what else are his most successful films if not extended riffs on being alone, trapped inside of your own head, unable to truly connect?”
—Chad Perman, I Wish I’d Stayed, Too.” (Bright Wall/Dark Room Magazine, No. 1)
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(Illustration by Brianna Ashby)