How many bad relationships have you had? Relationships that keep you from moving forward for one reason or another? What if someone offered you a simple solution that would only take one evening and cost a nominal fee? Would you take it?
When we first meet Joel Barish (played by Jim Carrey), he’s waking up in his home, wearing pajamas he doesn’t recognize. It’s Valentine’s Day and, rather than go to work, he makes a spur of the moment decision to visit Montauk. As is typically the case with beach communities in the off-season, Montauk is deserted. Then, unexpectedly, Joel sees a woman on the beach. He wonders why he “falls in love with every woman” he sees who shows him “the slightest bit of attention”. He encounters the same woman when he orders breakfast at a local restaurant and then, one final time, on the train home. The woman (played by Kate Winslet) introduces herself without any prompting. Her name is Clementine and she and Joel are getting off at the same stop. Their initial interaction makes Joel rather uncomfortable, he being the quiet, reserved type while Clementine is very outgoing and gives little thought to other peoples’ opinions of her. Additionally, she has great disdain for generic adjectives like “nice”, a word Joel uses more than once during their time on the train. When Joel spots Clementine walking home he offers to give her a ride and she accepts. When they arrive at her apartment, Clementine invites Joel up to her place for a drink and, despite the differences between them, or maybe as a result of them, Joel is intrigued. They take a late night trip to see the frozen Charles River and their romance progresses. The following morning, they arrive at Clementine’s once again, Joel driving while Clementine slept, and she asks if they can go to his place and sleep there. She enters her apartment to retrieve some personal items and Joel, waiting in the car, is approached by a stranger who inquires as to why Joel is there. The conversation is awkward and short. Then, Clementine returns and they depart. Next, the credits begin rolling and we are shown an obviously distraught Joel. That is when the story really begins.
I go back and forth on the subject of non-linear storytelling. There are some stories that seek to make themselves seem interesting by showing the elements out of order and others that are genuinely enhanced by jumping from one point in time to another. I believe Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind falls in the second category. The creative manner by which they depict those elements of the story that take place within the mind of the main character, the subplots involving the unprincipled technicians performing the procedure add a whole new dimension to an already engrossing tale. Carrey and Winslet are both at the top of their games and, in my opinion, Carrey was never better before and hasn’t been since. This is an amazing movie. See it.