Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) is a colossal loser. Now, it's not like we have a lot to go on from director Michel Gondry's film, but it's pretty easy to extrapolate when he first meets Clementine (Kate Winslet) that's he's a loser. He doesn't know how to talk to her. He can't make eye contact. He doesn't know what to do.
Fortunately for Joel, Clementine is a freak and doesn't react like a normal woman would in Joel's presence, which is run as far away as possible. Instead, she jumps into a relationship with him. When that turns into a disaster, she goes to the Lacuna Corporation to have her memory of Joel wiped clean. When Joel decides he can't live with the pain, he does the same.
This is a conveniently linear explanation of a movie that is all over the place, flashing forward and backward, much like the inside of some loser's brain as he remembers this and that, in the past and in the present. Joel consults with Lacuna's founder, Dr. Howard Mierzwiak (Tom Wilkinson). Dr. Mierzwiak sends two of his technicians, Stan (Mark Ruffalo) and Patrick (Elijah Wood), to wipe Joel's memory. While they're doing that, their office clerk, Mary (Kirsten Dunst), shows up. As they're talking, Joel has this big, metal helmet on his head and he can sort of hear them as he's going through his memories and they're being erased. Of course, one wonders in a medical procedure of this delicacy, why the effect of the patient's surroundings wasn't taken into consideration.
But no matter. That last point is needlessly picky. What makes this film close to unwatchable is the chaotic direction of Gondry, who apparently feels that he has to add a certain level of wackiness to Charlie ("Adaptation") Kaufman's script, which is sort of like pouring a couple teaspoons of sugar in your Coke for added flavor.
This is a far better idea than it is an actual film. The idea revolves around our fascination with the nostalgia of relationships. Why do we usually focus our memories on only the best moments of bad or mediocre relationships? It's not so much that this is a bad idea as Gondry just drives the point right into the ground, repeating the theme over and over again with his ridiculous mish-mash of stylistic extravagance.
If a procedure like the one in the movie actually existed, I probably would have had my memory erased the second I stepped out of the theater.
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