Love is Worth the Inevitable Pain
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is not the typical Hollywood love film. A Hollywood love film is a film where a couple gets together in the end and lives happily ever after, but this is a love story that shows the reality of love and the consequences that come with it. Love is not one hundred percent bliss, it also comes with pain. To get rid of this pain after a break up or death a company, Lacuna, has invented a way to erase people from their memory. The two main characters in the movie fall in love and then they both decide to erase each other from their memories. Clementine, Kate Winslet, erases Joel, Jim Carrey, because she becomes bored with their relationship. Joel goes to the Barnes and Nobles where she works to see her and she has absolutely no idea who he even is. Joel probably would not have erased Clementine, but he found a card that told him he was erased from her memory and he did not think that he could go on with the memory of her. This film is completely different from a Hollywood version, at the end of this movie it leaves room for interpretation for the viewer to think for themselves whether Clementine and Joel will end up happily ever after, there are no clear answers.
The scene begins with Joel and Clementine lying naked on a rug in the middle of the floor covered only by a repugnant quilt. The quilt has a tranquilizing effect however because of its warm colors, which is perfect for this scene. The colors of the quilt subconsciously give the feeling that everything is comfortable. As they are lying on the floor Clementine asks Joel if she is ugly. As soon as she asks the question the shot changes and it shows Joel instantly respond with an “uh huh,” in a manner saying no. The camera then goes to Clementine, but once she starts to speak, it instantly shows Joel again. Clementine tells Joel about how she remembers when she was little a little girl and she thought she was ugly, as the camera is still on a close up of Joel. Usually while someone is talking the camera would be on them, but in this scene the camera is on a close up of Joel while Clementine is talking to show his expressions and to see the sincerity of his emotions and the love he has for Clementine. The next shot is a picture of Clementine when she was little. The picture of her is a somewhat average little girl. She is sitting in a chair dressed in a pink cowgirl outfit holding a stuffed giraffe, which is what I would think of as being a fairly standard picture that would be taken at the grandparents’ house after opening presents at Christmas. It gives me this feeling because she.This picture shows what Joel pictures her as a little girl. He sees her as being a completely innocent child, and that is the way that he wants to remember her. The camera then pans across about ten dolls while it is out of focus until it reaches the ugly doll, that was also named Clementine, and then it focuses and zooms in on it. Clementine tells Joel that she would yell at the doll to try and make it prettier, and she for some reason believed that if the doll became prettier then she would too. The fact that Clementine is telling Joel about the doll in this intimate moment is that it makes her seem vulnerable and in need to Joel’s affection. The camera then goes to a close up of Clementine just in time to see Joel begin to kiss her. As they are kissing Joel repeatedly calls Clementine pretty, and she says “Joel, don’t ever leave me.” I think this is the pinnacle of their relationship, this is the most intimate and emotional shot in the entire movie where they both are completely content with each other. This also shows that they need each other even through the times that they may not be happy with each other.
The scene takes a drastic change when the next shot shows Joel crawling desperately on the ground in complete darkness except for the light fixed on the middle of the screen. Joel is begging out loud “Please, let me keep this memory.” The light fixed on the middle of the screen signifies Joel being lost. It shows that he has no idea where he is, not physically but emotionally. Joel is emotionally lost because he thought that deep down in his heart he wanted to forget everything about Clementine. This is the turning point in Joel’s decision to have his memory erased. At this exact point Joel realizes that he desperately wants to retain the memories of Clementine even though some of them may be painful. He realizes that he does not have to completely forget her to move on. Joel’s mind then starts to remember other times of perfect ecstasy. The camera shows Joel and Clementine lying on the ice next to each other. The camera shows a close up of their hands as they grasp each other and Joel says “I could die right now Clem, I’m just happy. I’ve never felt that before.” Clementine moves to a position that she can lay her head on his chest. The expression on her face is also utter happiness. Joel then says, “I’m just exactly where I want to be.” The scene goes to chaos from here. As soon as he finishes the sentence, it shows them lying in what looks to be a busy sidewalk in the middle of a metropolitan area, but again in the darkness with the light fixed only on them. The chaos reminds me of the way dreams work, the background or room does not always make sense and not everything is clear. Clem is then pulled away from Joel, as if to show that he is losing her again.
The vary fact that they are erasing each other from their memories is showing that they are trying to hide from the fact that love is not easy. Joel and Clementine both take the easy way out. I think that this film is trying to send the message that love is hard, but it is worth the pain that will undoubtedly come. I am reminded of a quote by Lord Tennyson that goes “Tis greater to have loved once than to have never loved at all.” This quote means that even if you have been heart broken the good memories and times vastly outweigh the bad. The sad part about this movie is the fact that neither Joel nor Clementine had the temperance to see this and just gave up. Once they find out that they had erased each other from their memories things start to make sense for them. Clementine understands why she keeps feeling deja vu, and why something just did not feel right with Patrick. It is because she still deep down somewhere still has the love for Joel, and Joel still deep down has the love for Clementine even though they do not consciously remember it.
The end of the movie proves that they have learned their lesson that love is worth the pain. They both feel uncomfortable listening to the tape that was sent to them from the secretary at Lacuna, and they are about to give up on each other again. Clementine leaves the room and then Joel finally realizes it. He follows her out of his apartment and tells her to “wait!” Clementine then tells Joel “I’m just a fucked up girl looking for her own piece of mind, I’m not perfect.” This is repeated from earlier in the movie. Most Hollywood films do not use subtle one liners like this is to show something. I believe that this line is repeated to show a new beginning for their relationship, because this is a disclaimer that Clementine uses both times she meets Joel to warm him of the way that she is. Joel responds with “I can’t see anything that I don’t like about you.” Clementine says “But you will. You will think of things and I’ll get bored with you and feel trapped because that is what happened with me.” Joel says “OK” as if he is relieved, which Clementine promptly answers with “OK.” They both decide that they want to try and start over with their relationship even though they know that it probably will not work out because it has already failed once, but there is a possibility for it to succeed. They now understand that the risk they take to have a relationship and fail, is far greater than to not have even attempted to have one at all.
The movie ends with the song “Change of Heart” playing while Clementine and Joel are walking in the snow towards their new beginning. The director is implying that they had a change of heart and that things in the end did work out for them to live together happily ever after, but not with out loves temporary and necessary glitches.