Film Analysis: “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”


Every couple of years I stumble upon a film that transcends its traditional entertainment purposes and goes for something more divine, ambitious and philosophical. When a film like this comes along, it reassures me that film is indeed the greatest art form of our time. Movies that had that awe-inspiring effect on me include: “Last Year At Marienbad”, “The Exterminating Angel”, “Persona”, “2001: A Space Odyssey”, “Dark City”, “Enter the Void”, “The Thin Red Line”, “Eyes Wide Shut” and “Synecdoche, New York”. I like to call them life-changers.

The first time I watched Michael Gondry’s “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” it felt like a life changer. I remember the night I saw it, too. I couldn’t sleep all night due to perpetual thoughts rushing through my head. I used to experience that during the last minutes of an exam I couldn’t finish on time. That night, I needed more time to grasp the film’s brilliant originality and fascinating implications. The second time I saw it, I had a few friends over and it wasn’t as impressive. Now, six years later I’ve given it another shot. Surprisingly, it had that same initial effect on me. This almost never happens to me, and I think I understand why it enchanted me the first and last times. It is one of those rare films, I’d rather watch alone than with an audience.

It reaches for something personal like troubling memories buried deep in our psyche. It is a film that demands the presence of thoughts we put aside when surrounded by people, things we only think about when we’re alone, buried in everlasting thoughts. “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” is the rarest of all films, a therapeutically liberating work of art.


Charlie Kauffman’s marvelous screenplay revolves around Joel (Jim Carrey), a soloist stuck in the repetitive formula of everyday life till he meets the spontaneously carefree Clementine (Kate Winslet). Their relationship escalates into a supposedly dead-end when he learns that she had him erased from her memory. Furious and confused, he contacts the inventor of this advanced process, Dr. Howard Mierzwaik (Tom Wilkinson). Out of sheer desperation he resorts to the only logical solution at the time, removing her from his memory as well. But as he re-experiences the passionate days of their earlier relationship, he falls in love with her all over again.

The film then takes a Hitchcockian turn and becomes a man-on-the run film, only this time the protagonists are running from an untouchable entity. They race from one memory to the next desperately escaping the inevitable erasing process. It’s one of the most original and fresh ideas ever shot on film. If you haven’t seen this modern masterpiece, I strongly suggest you stop reading at this point, as I will explore some of the film’s more thought provoking themes.

One of the philosophical questions this film asks is whether we are merely the sum of our memories or if there’s more to us than a summation of past experiences. Would erasing an incident from our micro-history do us any good? Would a woman erasing the memory of a rape make her happier or would removing the incident do more damage to her life than the actual incident itself? Hence, she wouldn’t have learned anything from it or become the stronger person she is today. Is ignorance indeed bliss?


The film ultimately arrives to the conclusion that no, having a spotless mind does not bring eternal sunshine. You may forget a past memory but you can’t forget the impulses, instincts and emotions that arose from that past incident. They are in some sense untouchable because they shape who we are. Take for example, the simultaneous subplot involving Mary (Kirsten Dunst) discovering that she had her love affair with Dr. Mierzwaik erased. She arrives to that discovery through her love to him. The weak link in Lacuna’s process is that it successfully erases memories but can’t erase feelings.

Another heartbreaking scene that explores the system’s imperfection is when Joel and Clementine finally bid farewell inside his head. She leans in and whispers, “Meet me in Montauk.” You see, the Clementine guiding his escape is merely a projection in Joel’s mind. She represents his will to hold on and he does so through what he knows of her spontaneous personality.

When they challenge the erasing process by hiding in childhood remembrances and other “off the map” memories, the escape route is always suggested by Clementine. Joel would never arrive to such conclusions himself, but he subconsciously asks himself what would Clementine do and acts upon it. So when she whispers that final line inside his head, what he’s really doing is implanting an impulse; something Lacuna can’t touch.


The film opens with a post-erasing scene. On Valentine Day, Joel feels the impulse of going to Montauk instead of working and there he meets Clementine. She too implanted that impulse during her erasing process and it’s such a beautiful encounter. That cold day on the beach, they fall for each other all over again. Both Joel and Clementine do in fact win at the end, implanting that impulse defeats the system in a final attempt of desperation.

In that “second” first encounter, it’s almost like a hidden magnetic force pulls them together. This is portrayed cinematically through brilliant use of music. Music plays when they talk and pauses when they pause. Joel and Clementine click in a disguised coincidence, a natural encounter.

In another simultaneous subplot, Patrick, one of the Lacuna technicians, uses the dialogue he knows from Joel and Clementine’s real initial encounter to sweep her off her feet. The plan backfires on him and only fuels her confusion and anger. I believe that we as human beings have an uncanny ability to detect bullshit and truth in words. We think spoken words is the only way of communicating but there’s an invisible energy that comes from body language, the way we say things, and the way we look at a person that tells us if there’s any truth in what is being communicated. This energy is something beyond what we hear or see; it’s something we feel, a feeling of truth.


My favorite scene in the film is when they’re stuck in their first memory, which is also the last memory they helplessly witness getting erased. Both characters recite some of the dialogue of his memory, but occasionally, Joel becomes self aware, looks at Clementine and pours out his commentary thoughts. As they sit in front of the ocean, she looks at him and says, “This is it Joel, it’s gonna be gone soon.” A sad smile eclipses his face when he replies, “I know.” But it’s the last exchange that really hit the mark with me. “What do we do?” she asks. To which he replies, “Enjoy it.” Joel gives up fighting instantly and chooses to enjoy the little time they have left together and it’s utterly heartbreaking.

Ironically, this reminded me of one of my childhood memories with my dad who’s a doctor of nuclear medicine; it’s when they use nuclear energy in a positive way to cure cancer. I remember when he told me that not all cancer patients choose to fight the disease and there’s nothing he can do about that, it’s their call. As a young kid, I couldn’t get that through my head. It just seemed inconceivable at the time. Whatever reasons they may have, I think it’s their right to do so. Whether it’s never-ending surgeries that constantly fail or hectic chemotherapy that leaves them miserable in their potential last days, it’s their right to let go and enjoy the little time they have left in this world.

Letting go is one of the hardest things a person can do. It doesn’t mean they’re giving up, it means they’re moving on. We hold on to things we value as if they will cease to exist when we let go. The truth is they won’t. Letting go or giving up isn’t an act of cowardice; quite often it’s an act of supreme bravery. “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” tells us to accept things as they are and make the most of what we have when all hope is lost.


I remember seeing my dad sitting on the living room couch as he watched the news. He’s one of the most positive and cheerful people I know and it often puzzled me knowing what he does for a living. I asked him if dealing with dying people on a daily basis is a depressing job. He replied something along the lines of “We tend to keep a lighthearted environment at the hospital.” When I asked him if breaking the bad news is the worst part of his job, he told me that it was, but every once in a while he breaks out great news and it makes it all worth it. The ups and down of life apply everywhere. In the case of this film, it’s in a relationship. As Joel discovers throughout his mental journey, the ups are sometimes worth all the downs.

“Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean, Tears from the depths of some devine despair Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes, In looking on the happy autumn fields, And thinking of the days that are no more.” – Alfred Tennyson

After a break up, the very memories you once cherished, the ones that drew a smile on your face whenever you remembered them seem none existent. That’s probably due to the recently bad incident towering and blocking all things wonderful from your thoughts. I think it’s an act of self-preservation to let the bad memories stick and allow great ones to slip through our fingers. It makes moving on easier.

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
 I took the one less traveled by And that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost


After Joel and Clementine learn they’ve had their memories erased because things just didn’t work out, they somehow choose to travel that same road again anyway. I think it’s a perfect ending to a perfect film. As we’re so often told, it’s about the journey not the destination. They know what is waiting at the end of that road and they choose to walk through it anyway. The journey has been erased and therefore, they choose to re-experience it. Perhaps it’s to arrive at that conclusion because that’s the only way they’ll understand the nature of their previous destination. Or maybe, they share a tiny ounce of mutual hope. After all, they know the pitfalls and hidden traps on that road from listening to their Lacuna tapes. Dodging them is all that needs to be done to arrive at a different destination. This is precisely how second chances are meant to be taken.

Whenever, I watch this film it steers my eyes away from the empty half of the glass of water and makes me acknowledge that there’s a full half right below. For that very reason, I’m eternally grateful for its existence.

110 thoughts on “Film Analysis: “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”

    1. Dear writer,

      I’m not very good at this stuff, as much as I love to think I can write I can’t. As much as I like to believe I’m clever I’m not. To be a writer is like a dream to me. One too far away to grab. I constantly get bad grades for my poor writing skills and bad grammar. But I like to daydream that some of my stories may make the big screen and It could be elaborate as this movie. I think I saw this movie freshmen year of Highschool and I’m a junior now. I can’t seem to stop applying this movie to my life. It made such an impact on my way of thinking. Every time I watch I try to figure something out that is even more deeper hidden in its context. I think you answered all of them for me and created new ones. My question is? I forget it kinda I rambled. Thanku for this writing. I just got into a car crash recently, my fault, n my family hates me right now. I wish I could just erase my memory n move far away. I don’t know my path in life, n I’m just another scared kid who doesn’t want a boring life, and a everyday job, one who doesn’t repeat his days n can hopefully make someone happy. But like in this movie I’m scared of losing someone. In the beginning Jim has dots on his head in the car when his driving while listening to the tape? How if he hasn’t gotten the procedure ye? If you have time please answer.


      1. The film starts after his first procedure. The film goes back and forth in time. When we first sees him, he just had the procedure that we later see in the film. He goes to Montauk by instinct because this is the impulse he implanted. When they meet, it’s their second encounter.


      2. ridiculously late bump. Joel only had his left temple cleaned but not his right because of a beer bottle mark ruffalo found and tried to hide


    2. “We think spoken words are the only way of communicating but there’s an invisible energy that comes from body language, the way we say things, and the way we look at a person that tells us if there’s any truth in what is being communicated.” yes i totally agree. in fact, there are numerous other ways of communicating without words.


    3. The film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, is a movie that I think I, as well as many others, can heavily relate back to their own lives. It is a story that shows the pain of a toxic relationship and the struggle of trying to move on from someone, but with a twist. The reality this movie is set in has a program that people can go through to have their memories of a person completely erased. This is something that all people, at some point, wish was actually available. However, it is better to learn and grow from these bad memories and apply these lessons to later experiences in life. This can be seen as Joel Barish spends the whole movie trying to stop his erasing process of Clementine as it happens.
      As most people who dated in high school, my first relationship was not successful and I used to wish it never happened. Just as Joel and Clementine started out strong, passionate, and madly in love, so did I and my ex boyfriend. As time grew on, we began to make each other angry more often than happy, but we did not realize that our resentment of each other should have been enough to make us either work things out, or call it quits. Instead, we stayed unhappy for years while claiming that we were in love. This idea of comfort in an unhealthy relationship was shown in the beginning of the movie, where they had gotten used to constantly bickering and hating each other’s company.
      Since we were in a relationship as toxic as Joel and Clementine’s, we, too, eventually came to an end. Despite not enjoying each other as people, we still both took it hard. It was something that I could not get over for months, and I constantly found myself wishing he never existed, that I never met him, or that we never dated. The heartbreak seemed like a burden I would have to carry until I died and it did not seem worth it in the slightest. I know that if I had the opportunity presented in the movie that I would have not even thought twice about having my memories of him erased. It was not until after I had accepted and moved on from the past that I realized that relationship was a necessary life experience that would help me for years to come.
      As Joel’s memories of Clementine begin to erase he realizes that he wants to keep them. I think that he probably pinpoints where things went wrong and assumed that he could prevent them from turning sour once again. I think that although he wanted his memories of her to help get her back, it would still be a lesson either way. Whether things turned out with Clementine or not, he could always apply everything he learned to his life and next experiences. Although it would be nice to be able to get another chance, or start with a blank slate, sometimes all we can do is make sure that something like that never happens again.
      After having several months, and then years, of reflecting on my first relationship, I learned how to implement everything that happened into my present and future. First and foremost, I looked inward. Instead of getting upset about what I could have done differently, I realized what I needed to do next time I was with someone. I also learned what I should not do. Not only that, though, I also gained a lot of insight on how I should be treated. Besides making me more confident, it made me see how respectfully and properly a guy is supposed to treat me to earn and maintain my interest. Without having this negative of a relationship, I would have still had to experience trial and error somehow, sometime, in order to figure out what works well for me and what makes me work well for other people.
      I think that this movie touched me so much because I could so heavily understand the pain of a break up and the desire to never have to think or deal with it again. However, I can also understand why it is important to keep these painful memories and turn them into something positive. Life is not always easy, and sometimes we are dealt a bad hand and we have to ride it out, but that does not mean that things will permanently be negative. We are given obstacles to learn how to overcome them, not to simply never try and face them again. With every challenge we encounter, we have to remember that the struggle is temporary but the lesson we learn will be incredibly fulfilling.


      1. As someone going through a similar thing at the moment, I appreciate you taking the time to tell your story here – it’s really helpful to read.

        Glad to hear you were able use your painful experience creatively and for good – I wish you all the best.


  1. Wow! This is by far the best review of Eternal Sunshine I’ve read. I agreed with you on so many levels, you really managed to get to the heart of the film, which is what some other reviewers can’t seem to get to. I totally agreed with you that the film is not nearly as effective as when watched by yourself. You make such a personal connection with the film and you let it bring out your deepest emotions. It really had me pondering it for hours afterwards. Thank you so much for posting this (I’ll have it bookmarked) I hope to see further discussion on this film on your site. Thanks, Kieran.


    1. Thank you so much for the kind words, Kieran. It is comments like yours that make me eager to share my analysis and thoughts on films. “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” is one of the most intimate experiences I’ve had watching a film. It’s truly a remarkable piece of cinema that digs deep into your darkest and most wonderful memories.


  2. Outstanding review Wael.

    You have a great gift of sharing wonderful insight with elegant clarity and simplicity.
    Reading your review, I was deeply moved by what you wrote and how you wrote it.

    Your review helped me get much better idea of what, how, and why this movie resonated with me so deeply. It was hard for me to articulate before reading your review.

    Thank you for sharing your insights and analysis–i really appreciate it and enjoyed it!

    And I now have a much better appreciation of this great movie and how it has worked on me. Can’t wait to see it again soon… Along with some other Kaufman films again too!



    1. Thank you, so much Bryan. I have never received this much positive feedback on anything I’ve written as for this analysis. You made my day and thanks again for the very kind words. “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” is a film that will never age. I truly believe it’s one of the greatest pieces of art regardless of the form, and Charlie Kauffman is the best writer since Shakespeare.


  3. I also just re-watched the film after a few years of not seeing it. It really does leave you feeling quite unsettled because you know that you have just witnessed a beautiful thing. Take the names and faces away and you have an underlying principle there that i think all of us can, at some point in our lives, relate to. We lose control of things without even meaning to and before we know it, something so wonderful is gone.

    I agree with all the commenters above, you’ve explained it perfectly. Just what i needed to read after watching the movie again – thanks.



  4. This is by far the greatest review and analysis I’ve read on this movie. It’s my favorite movie, and have decided to do a write-up on it for my film class, and this just opened all the doors on why I love this movie. You’ve definitely got a talent of writing, here.
    Thanks so much for this.


    1. Thank you so much for your kind and encouraging words. It’s one of my favorite movies too. It is unlike anything I’ve ever seen and will likely see in the future. Good luck with your paper 😀


  5. Thank you for writing such a beautiful review. It had tugged on my heartstrings and said things that i could not.

    For some reason, i watched this movie on impulse while i was at my lowest, trying to grasp the fact that i had to let go of a person i should have done so long ago. Your review helped me realised why i instantly thought of watching this movie for solace and comfort.


    1. Pamela,

      I’m going through a similar situation myself. Stay strong and take comfort in knowing you’re not alone. I’m glad my piece moved you and thank you for your kind words. Rainy days are messy, but inevitably it stops raining and the sun comes up.


  6. Beautiful and insightful commentary, on a beautiful and insightful film. I recently chose this film to discuss amongst a group of filmmakers because it’s a film that I admire very much. In preparation I was doing some research on the movie and stumbled across your essay, and just thought you nailed it. Excellent writing. Thank you!


  7. I found this review by chance and i am glad i did, because i personally loved the film,and your words made me love it even more, this is really good writing. You somehow managed to put into words all of the emotions this movie evokes. It is so true, this is the kind of film that has to be seen alone, it allows you to discover new things each time you do. Thank you


  8. I just watched the film on IFC today, coming a few minutes into the film, but could not walk away from it. It is a bittersweet story, and I find them the most memorable. “Erasing” all of Joel’s memories of Clementine meant he would never have access to the good ones. In most periods of my life, I have found it is the good ones that linger.

    A similar approach was taken in the first “Kicking and Screaming” with Josh Hamilton and Oliva d’Abo. In this case, their relationship was run in reverse, through flashbacks, until the scene where they first got together was the last one in the film. It sticks with you forever just like the scene you most remember from “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” where Joel and Clementine say goodbye in the beach house as it “deconstructs” around them.


  9. I have just watched this film for the first time and boy did I not expect what I saw. After watching it, I was curious to see what people’s opinions were about it and I stumbled upon your review. I really enjoyed reading it because you made a lot of elements of this film make more sense to me. I also like how you relate to it and talk about personal experiences which reinforces your ideas. Although I really enjoyed watching the film, your analysis gave it a lot of meaning and now I like it even more! Great review!


  10. I have to agree with many of the positive comments posted here. The line “Meet me in Montauk” I couldn’t quite articulate how that exactly worked out, but you nailed it. Same with the impulses and raw emotions attached to memories, and those raw feelings cannot be erased. Human chemistry really seems to have no science behind it, too many variables.

    I slightly have different views on some things. Patrick freaked Clem out b/c I believe those words still had emotional impulses attached deep down. Even if Patrick meant all those words, and really liked her, she already formed a connection w/ someone else speaking them. She freaked out b/c she only knew this subconsciously. If she just felt it was insincere, I don’t believe she would’ve freaked out so harshly. The words were pulling her back to past impulses which she couldn’t understand.

    Also spot on: it’s best to watch alone. I’ve enjoyed it with my girlfriend, but it reaches my deepest core of sadness, regret, shame, joy, and love when alone.

    In a way, I think something like this would only strengthen a relationship. If you hear such harsh words after investing a long time with someone, it’s devastating. But, if you just met someone and heard these words supposedly spoken, it would have less impact b/c the emotional bonds haven’t been formed yet. It’s much easier to avoid stepping back into that pitfall when you know how hurtful you can be. It’s the ability to see a future that was, so you can make a future that could and should be.


  11. By the way one of saddest moments for me was when the building was crumbling. Clementine said, so go. And he did, because of how uncaring it was said. His character is so much like me it’s scary, and that part is exactly what I would’ve done. Just go, potentially missing out on a lifetime of happiness


  12. Perfect review and wonderful explanations… After having just watched the movie and desperately trying to find answers to the plethora of questions I had swirling in my head for a long time afterwards, I ended up here. No other review came close to explaining all the concepts this film presented, as well as bringing up new ideas. It really makes you think… it makes you ponder life deeply…. and I’m not trying to be philosophical, but this is one of the few movies (in fact, the only movie) that hits my core so hard. As I watched it alone, I can’t compare how it would feel different to watch with other people, but I can already agree 100%. This kind of movie is perfect for self-reflection, and personally allowed me to establish a small connection with my own memories and how I interact with them sometimes. Makes me realize just now amazing our minds really are.

    Again, thanks so much for answering every single one of my once-lingering questions. Not often does a film analysis allow me to exhale completely and go to sleep peacefully!


  13. Great review. I read it till the end. Indeed this movie is a masterpiece. Probably my favourite now 🙂 I think the movie also tries to take a moment to acknowledge the fact that you don’t know what you have till it’s gone. And yes I highly agree that erasing a memory does mean that you’ll eventually do it again and you won’t learn from it. So it’s much better to just live with it and not ponder and make life a mess.

    Cheers for a great review.
    And here’s to another movie like ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ 😀

    Kind regards,


  14. Your review was phenomenal and the most thorough that I’ve found.
    I also wanted to make a point that I think the movies’ theme deals with fate. If two people are meant to be together, they will be together despite the circumstances. What’s meant to be yours will be yours regardless of the circumstances. They chose to erase the memories that they had of each other because of the pain; but their connection for one another is stronger than they imaged. We can only hope that Clem and Joel subconsciously learn from their mistakes and make it work the second time around.

    Thank you once again for a fantastic review!


  15. Sir, saw the movie for the first time and failed to comprehend it, but i was sure there is in-depth reasoning behind it, As i was failing to grasp, thanks to you sir, your blog has helped me so much not only about understanding the movie but also about nuances of little things, which we humans ignore, this piece was more of a lesson than a review, i feel so good that , people like you share such things publicly, which helps amateur movie goers like me acknowledge the beautiful things, which otherwise we would turned a blind eye to.


    1. Thank you, for your kind words. This is my most well-received analysis on this blog. It is also the most read piece and commented on. I’m glad it’s reaching a lot of people as it is also my personal review yet.


  16. This is a wonderful, insightful review. A new friend of mine adores this movie and (trusting her judgement) I finally watched it last night (twice). That hesitant moment in the end when Clem says she will end up feeling trapped again and Joel simply responds “Okay.”- it was beautiful. To me, that was supreme bravery. My past is riddled with dark and lengthy periods I would have gladly erased…but today I am happy. Memories make me…

    As a side note, I’ve never been more excited to Google a movie after it ended.


  17. I really loved your review and insight on the film. I am an English teacher and teach a Film and Lit course at the high school level and we are currently doing a mechanical analysis of the film studying how the plot structure is propelled by different cinematic devices. Would you at all be interested in setting up a Skype with my class to talk about the film and your analysis in the future? Much obliged. Demetri


    1. Hi Demetri,

      Thank you so much for your kind words. It would be an honor to participate in your class discussion. However, we would have to agree on a good time for both of us to set this up. As you may know, I was the foreign correspondent to the late Roger Ebert. Next week, I will attend his ongoing film festival, Ebertfest, where I will participate in a panel discussion. After that, I’m going back to Egypt, where I live. We can set up the Skype class conference sometime after I’m back, which is the 27th.


  18. Wael Khairy, I have a proposition I would like to express to you what would be the proper medium for contact? You may reach me at antique collezione at


  19. Having an epiphany at 1:07 am. Thank you for writing this and capturing what my heart has to say about this amazing film. Cheers 🙂


  20. This is one of the films you have to watch every now and again – like 500 Days of Summer – some films seem to show you a new hand of cards depending on what is happening in your own life at that time. I just stood looking at my DVD rack for inspiration and out it came.

    I doubt there are many people who have watched this film and not had the debate with themselves (or others)..if you could, would you erase the person who broke your heart? Would it make you happier? Would the trade off be worthwhile? There are lots of great things about this film, but for me that best part is the way it makes you think, and analyse, and debate the answer. This film is ten years old now and still years ahead of its time. Great film – and great review.


  21. My partner and I absolutely love your blog and find many of your post’s to be exactly what I’m looking for.
    Does one offer guest writers to write content to suit your needs?
    I wouldn’t mind publishing a post or elaborating
    on many of the subjects you write concerning here. Again, awesome web site!


      1. Hi, Wael. Are you still looking for contributor’s to your site. I’d very much appreciate the opportunity to share a post on this site. Film is a passion of mine and i’ve been looking forward to write on it.


  22. Joel (Jim Carrey) is a rather milquetoast man who meets up with free spirit Clementine (Kate Winslet), and they become romantically involved. However, they endure a messy breakup and Clementine goes to a business called Lacuna, Inc., where she has all of her memories of Joel erased. Not wanting to be left out, Joel also goes to have his memory erased. However, soon after it begins, Joel realizes that he wants to keep the memory of Clementine, so he tries to reverse the process.

    Well, if you’re familiar with Kaufman’s work, then you know what your getting yourself into. This is just as weird if not weirder than his previous work, Being John Malkovich. I knew what I was getting myself into, but 90% of the movie I was saying to myself “What the hell is going on?”, but in a good way. It opens with Joel calling in sick for work and going on a different train, heading for Montauk. He meets Clementine and they hit it off. Now this is about 15 minutes into the movie, then out of nowhere come the opening credit sequence. I will admit, I thought it would be different, but I’m glad that it is the way it is, the movie is 80% of the time in Joel’s head.

    If you think you know Carrey, think again. This movie is his best performance, better than Majestic, Truman show and all of his comedic roles (which is what I love him for). Just looking at his face from the second we see him, we feel his pain, then like that, we feel his joy, embarrassment and hate. Just awesome acting on his part, and Winslet was great as the free spirit who never seems satisfied. The supporting cast all work well in their small, yet important roles. Oscar nominations for Winslet and (crosses fingers) Carrey.

    But if I were to bet any money on any Oscar nominations it would obviously be the writing, what a mess, but beautifully constructed. You think to yourself, is that scene really necessary? Then ten minutes later you think to yourself how brilliant it was, that’s beautiful, crazy, give me whatever he’s smoking kind of writing. Charlie Kaufman’s writing is always clever, but this time he’s one-upped himself by making something simultaneously bizarre and emotionally engaging. It seemed like his earlier movies were clever for the sake of cleverness, but ‘Eternal Sunshine’ manages to dazzle you with it’s originality and it’s poignancy. The fact that this movie was able to wrap such profound loss, emotional tenderness, and hope in such a self-consciously stylized package illustrates the incredible talent of the people behind it.

    Michel Gondry’s use of vibrant coloring and quick camera movement give the film a very involving first hand feeling. The constant use of the handy cam is very all involving for the viewer, and I suppose that this is exactly what is needed in such a personal movie. His work on the dream sequences is incredible as well. He decides to use more practical effects than what we see today with computers.

    Eternal Sunshine is a tragic, yet beautiful film that sits at the top of my list of “Best of 2004”.


  23. ive watched this one twice. When I was alone and 17 years old with some friends. 10 years later I watched with my partner. I cried a lot, everything starts clicking in your mind, the fights, the good moments, the great moments all the way to the first moment, to the first time we met. We chose the same spot if that ever happens to us, similar to Montauk. For some reason, it seemed that while he was dreaming and running from the erasors, the awakend recently erased Clem was somehow being told by Joel not to believe in Elija Wood character lies through some kind of telepathy. If not, how is it that they met in the train that exact day? At the end this question is left to open interpretation, which makes the movie excellent for watching it again every 5 years or so with your partner.


  24. Amazing and beautifully written review of this film. I recently re watched it for the first time in years and I’m blown away by the work of the actors, the concept, and the story line!! All beautiful ..I really enjoyed your review of the film. The movie does go to show how we can’t erase feelings ..memories of good times are hard to swallow when the person you cared for is now out of your life. However , you touched on this statement “accept things as they are and make the most of what we have when all hope is lost.” And it just stuck a cord with me …it’s true we must just focus on making the most out of life’s experiences even painful ones …moving on doesn’t mean that relationship wasn’t important or that you quit it just means your stronger for being able to keep going and move through the pain.


  25. This is beautifully written analysis of Eternal Sunshine I must say. I was looking to understand what others took from the movie. Very well said. And having loved your analysis, I just added the rest of the movies I haven’t seen from movies you consider as life-changers to my watch list..


  26. Hey, thank you for this review/analysis. It is extremely readable and poignant. I have just watched the film for the first time and wanted to read-up on some related articles and yours was the first I decided on and I wasn’t disappointed. It served as a rather good addendum to the film and the thoughts racing around my head, and I agree with your perspectives in so many ways.

    Thanks again.


    Liked by 1 person

  27. Dear writer,

    I want to start by saying that this is by far my favorite film. I hadn’t heard of it until a couple weeks ago when I saw a post about it. I just recently watched it, and I can honestly say that it left me speechless. The story that it holds is so very strong.
    As for you, the way you analyzed this film was absolutely amazing. I have never read such a short piece of writing that captured such an amazing film the way that you did, bravo!

    Liked by 1 person

  28. This has long been one of my favorite films and I’m about to show it to my girl tomorrow night… she’s never seen it. I can’t wait to witness her reaction to this brilliant & bewildering experience, which is one of the towering achievements in all of film.

    I first saw it when I was still recovering from the loss of my “first love”. We had split up after a year and had 6 months of bliss & 6 months of hell, all wrapped up into one life-changing relationship. For so long I had focused on the bad moments that led to our downfall, but this movie changed that…

    Joel’s last scene spoke VOLUMES to me by implying a simple message: the good times are worth the bad. Loving someone and creating lifelong memories is more important than the bad times that come with a breakup. It’s the experience, the journey that matters. Joel implied as much and I instantly had an epiphany that helped me finally accept what happened and move on with my life.

    Anyway, your review is perhaps the best I’ve read in describing the true meaning of this movie. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with the Web. As you can see from the comment section, your contribution is something special. Two thumbs up!!


  29. I find it interesting how they meet for the second time. Ironically, they probably would’t meet again if Joel didn’t undergo the memory-erasing procedure after knowing what Clementine has done. His choice to erase her makes him fall in love with her again. Maybe Clementine fell in love with Joel again during the procedure too.


  30. Hello, I love your review, but I have a question :
    If it is true that our spotless mind keeps something from our past “erased” life (how it is suggested in the movie), then why, during the encounter that Clementine and Joel had in the library, where Clementine had had Joel erased from her mind but he hadn’t yet, does Clementine not seem to feel any emotions whatsoever towards him? It’s the only thing that has bugged me in this wonderful masterpiece of a movie.


  31. Reblogged this on Zeyi and commented:
    “Letting go is one of the hardest things a person can do. It doesn’t mean they’re giving up, it means they’re moving on.”

    How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot!
    The world forgetting, by the world forgot
    Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
    Each pray’r accepted, and each wish resign’d.


  32. i saw this quote,as i’m always looking for something to make me feel and i had to fnd out its origin and it was from this film and i watched and this film is beautiful. i like to guess things and films and i got to the part and in my head it clicked that no matter what they would take the bad to have the good to have each other no matter what has happened,that to me i feel is true love. i look for ways all the time to deal with a past love whom isn’t in my life anymore, and for me id have chosen the same path,but people do move on and it does make you think if things where different would he go back? would you?
    this review helped me understand more piece by piece.
    this post really opened my eyes and got me teary which is something i don’t cope with well, the understanding off this opens your mind up to think of a million questions.
    i never post n things and this may not ever be seen but im glad i found this film im glad i understand the meaning,it makes me think that second chances are real and sometimes its worth it and sometimes its just worth the lesson we learn in the end.
    Thank you
    young woman whom this has helped her soul


  33. I loved your review on this masterpiece as much as I loved the film. This review answered all my questions and second thoughts regarding the film. Truly a great piece of work that you’ve written. Cheers.


  34. I loved this review as much as I loved the film. Answered all my questions and second thoughts regarding the film. Truly a great piece of work written. Cheers.


  35. After watching the movie, I didn’t feel like it had any deep impact on me. But after a while, I thought about what I saw and read this review along with the instances that you had put with your father. It made me think about the past life experiences and relationships I had. And now, I think I absolutely love this movie.
    And this is the best review that I’ve come across so far.

    Thank you for writing it!


  36. sorry for my bad english, but i want to ask you that in the starting joel wakeup n when drives her home for the very first time n she said “let me get my toothbrush” n then patrick came m asked him if he’s alright? n suddenly he ended up crying in the car saying “why she would do that to me” , n them he decides to remove her as well, but whem he woke up from the process he again find himslef in the same position n same things happens with him n he meet her in the mauntauk , but this time when she go in side her home for toothbrsh he finds the recording cassette, with her memories that mary sent her, m again that patrick came to him in thecar to ask the exact same question?? how is that even possible man, i tried to figure it out but i couldn’t.. help !!


  37. After reading this review a couple of years ago, I found a few emails of people commenting still being sent to me.
    So I went back to re-read it and it reminded me of how amazing this film is.
    I also looked at your bio, and realised you’re Egyptian, which to my surprise I found to be quite funny cause I am too.
    Anyhow, lovely review, keep up the great work, and hope to see more from this blog on very deep movies like this one too.

    One of my favourite movies of all time.


    1. What a wonderful comment, Andrew. I’m glad you enjoyed this piece. “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” is indeed one of the most original films ever made. You have great taste in cinema, and I look forward to conversing with you about other great films on this blog. Don’t be a stranger. 🙂


  38. Wow! First time watching the film and I must admit, I didnt get the whole idea of it until I’ve read your analysis. This film is indeed exceptional and it made me rethink of what I’m doing in my life. I’m happy that there’s someone like you who thinks deep into things and I do believe that you’re exceptional as much as the movie.

    Thanks for sharing your inmost thoughts about the movie. It changed me. (:


  39. Wow! What a wonderful, well written review on Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I must admit, after watching the film, it didn’t really hit me that hard and there are things that I didn’t understand about the film. Your review helped me a lot actually. I must say that you have such great understanding regarding the film and after reading it, it made me realized things because I’m like Joel who has a boring life. Thank you, really thank you for sharing your inmost thoughts because it made me appreciate my life more.

    You’re such an exceptional human being and I think there are few like you who exist in this not so deep world. I’ll be saving your review and remember to read everytime I am fed up with my life. Thanks again! 🙂


  40. Consider the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Why is Mary an important character, and how do her choices in the film reflect existential theory?


  41. This is singlehandedly the most beautiful analysis of Eternal Sunshine I’ve read anywhere, and i’ll always come back to it for a lifting of spirits. Wonderfully written!


  42. I don’t comment much but this article really moved me, so did the movie.
    You’ve explained it so precisely that in too in a very simple language; I’d be looking forward to more:)


  43. I really love your article. I’ve read dozen times, recommended it for friends another couple dozen.
    I’m not used to comment but I realized today that I never have thanked you then thank you. Amazing work.


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