Somehow I have always seen Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) in the month of December. Huddled in the cold in a quilt, when I saw it for the first time three years ago it left me with a feeling of cuddly tearful warmth. More than that, it was such a high to decipher its screenplay and identify with all the characters. The quiet creative anti-social Joel of Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet’s Clementine as ‘just a fucked up girl looking for her peace of mind’ in Ugg boots, the infatuated pretty Mary of Kirsten Dunst, an annoying Elijah Wood’s ‘Patrick baby boy’ or the attractive bespectacled Stan of Mark Ruffalo. So I saw it again within a span of a few days. No film before that had left me with that tremendous feeling of having found something that was as yet intangible and unexplainable.
And you get that from everybody who has seen it. They will have that look on their face and you just understand. Yes, I know what you mean. Yet, each of us relate and engage with it personally. Why would this film have such an effect otherwise? Charlie Kaufman wrote the screenplay after he broke up with his girlfriend and it’s amusing to think about that every time up until today even when I saw it again after all these years on a rainy windswept cold winter’s day.
It’s difficult to make romantic cinema work. You either enter the cliché mushy territory that can leave you sick and disgusted. Or you enter the chick-flick zone which is another no-no (or only maybe very rarely). The Rom-coms haven’t gone a long way ever since When Harry met Sally (or at least I think so). Else there is always Woody Allen. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind really comes in like a ray of light with its unique meld of science-fiction, romance, melancholy and philosophy.
So I remember the dialogues and recite them along.
Constantly talking isn’t necessarily communicating.
You know me, I’m impulsive
The operation is brain damage
My crotch is still here, just as you remembered it
My God, there’s people coming out of your butt.
Meet me in Montauk
The story and dialogues get a new life with Michel Gondry’s direction. I can see the visual tricks and the turns and Clementine’s changing hair colors that express her personality and stages of her relationship with Joel. Just like her changing blue, green, orange and red hair – this film is also eternal because it means something different every time. Sometimes it is catharsis, sometimes it is longing. The white snow at the end of the film falls like a clean slate. We fade out into the color of whitewash or even cold dew. We can feel its droplets condense to Beck’s soundtrack. Yes, I need your loving like the sunshine, everybody’s gotta learn sometime.
How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot! / The world forgetting, by the world forgot / Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind! / Each pray’r accepted, and each wish resign’d. – Alexander Pope
Happy New Year!