‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ at 15: Don’t Let Your Memory of This Movie Get Deleted

/Film | 3/20/2019 | Joshua Meyer
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“Random thoughts for Valentine’s Day 2004. Today is a holiday invented by greeting card companies to make people feel like ****.”

Those are the first spoken lines in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Jim Carrey’s voice is laced with melancholy and wry humor as he lets us in on the internal monologue of his character, Joel Barish. It’s a far cry from the sassy voice that launched him to movie stardom ten years earlier in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. Yet there’s a whole contingent of moviegoers who, prior to this film and a couple of comparable screen gems in the early 2000s, might have felt it was an awkward question if you asked them, “What’s your favorite romantic comedy?”

Joel - Voice - Speaks - People - Punch-Drunk

Joel’s voice speaks for those people. Like Punch-Drunk Love in 2002 (also soundtracked by Jon Brion) and Lost in Translation in 2003, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a movie that wrangled career-best work out of a comedic actor, simply by injecting pathos into him via a strong script with an auteurist director behind the camera. Instead of a straight-up comedy, we see Carrey dialing down his usual antics and appearing in a romantic dramedy, one that in this case happens to be blended with quirky sci-fi, too.

It helps that he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast. Joel may be the protagonist, but the two most interesting characters in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind are actually women. The movie uses the deletion of memories as a plot device, and viewers who fell in love with it in the theater back in March 2004 now have a decade and half of other life experiences vying for recollection space in their heads. As it celebrates its 15th anniversary this week, let’s reclaim the memory (with spoilers) of one of the quintessential films...
(Excerpt) Read more at: /Film
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