Movies – The Best Movies of the Decade Part 6 – “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”

It says something that the two best love stories of the last ten years are also science fiction movies.  What, precisely, I can’t say.  Perhaps it reflects that increasingly we find each other online.  Perhaps science fiction is just the best method right now for communicating profound emotion as actual drama has become cliche and stale.  Or maybe it’s just coincidence.

Either way, it’s hard to think of a movie that’s more honest about what relationships are actually like as opposed to some idealized dream.  Joel’s a neurotic mess; Clementine’s a flake; their “married” friends argue constantly.  When Joel points out Clementine would be a crappy mother, it cuts close to the bone not just because it’s a horrible thing to say, but because Joel is actually right.  It’s fashionable to whine about the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, but this movie pretty relentlessly subverts that by being a pretty accurate rendition of the type, warts and all.  Also it’s worth considering we don’t see much of the real Clementine; almost all of the movie happens inside Joel’s mind and memories, and this is a movie about how memory is flawed, among other things.

I’d argue if the movie has a weakness, it’s that we’re never quite clear what Clementine gets out of her relationship with Joel, aside from the fact that it’s implied her dating history before, and certainly after, consists of complete bastards.

But what resonates most about “Eternal Sunshine” is the message; namely that without emotional pain and struggle, we’re incomplete as people.  Joel’s serene acceptance of the fact that he and Clementine will argue and possibly break up again, delivered with a simple “OK”, is a touching, quiet moment that’s all too rare.

It also marks the high point in a lot of careers.  So far, Charlie Kaufman has yet to put out a movie that rivals this, although he remains a solid screenwriter.  “Sunshine” isn’t just a romantic movie, it’s also a brutal kicking to most romantic comedy tropes.  Joel’s rival isn’t just kind of a douche, he’s pretty close to a total monster, a welcome change of pace for this kind of character.  In general, the script is just a welcome change of pace, both in romances and from Charlie Kaufman.

“Eternal Sunshine” is, for me, one of the great movie romances, because it’s both about something larger and about something simple at the same time.  A rare moment when “Indiewood” gets it right.

Next – “Bronson”

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2 Responses to “Movies – The Best Movies of the Decade Part 6 – “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind””

  1. movies Says:

    its amazing site thanks alot my friend ..bookmarkd!

  2. mesila Says:

    I loved this movie too, and I can’t fucking stand most romance movies.

    I still would have appreciated this a lot more if the female lead wasn’t hot. The dude wasn’t hot. Why does the chick always have to be?

    Do you think it’s even possible for there to exist a movie in which the female lead even has a slightly flawed appearance? The farthest it ever seems to go is – as exemplified well by this film – to show a female who is weird-looking – as long as she’s got a slim figure, acceptable breast size and is obviously not over 25 or so years old.

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