Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: A mind game movie with a tragically romantic edge

Eternal Sunshine follows a reserved man undergoing a procedure to have an ex-lover wiped from his brain. During the procedure, he remembers how much he loves her and tries to escape the erasing process while passed out and inside his mind.

The writer, Charlie Kaufman, likes these mind game movies. (He wrote Being John Malkovich.) The special thing about Eternal is it’s romantic edge.

Themes

  • Relationships with people you love can suck, but being without the person you love can suck even more.
  • You can’t force someone to love you, even if you have all the right things to say (Patrick’s character).

Favorite Scene

The ending scene.

JOEL
Wait!

Clementine stops and turns.

CLEMENTINE
(impatiently) *
What, Joel? What do you want?

JOEL
(at a loss)
I don't know.
 
JOEL (CONT'D)
(pause)
Just wait. I just want you to wait for a while.

They lock eyes for a long moment: Clementine stone-faced, Joel with a worried, knit brow. Clementine cracks up.

CLEMENTINE
Okay.

JOEL
Really?

CLEMENTINE
I'm not a concept, Joel. I'm just a fucked-up girl who is looking for my own peace of mind. I'm not perfect.

JOEL
I can't think of anything I don't like about you right now.

CLEMENTINE
But you will. You will think of things. And I'll get bored with you and feel trapped because that's what happens with me.

JOEL
Okay.

CLEMENTINE
Okay.

Favorite Character

Clementine. She’s impulsive but adult. She knows who she is and admits it freely: a woman who gets bored easily, starts feeling trapped, and does dumb shit.

She’s also the womanly savior every boring man needs and quite chatty without being annoying (like when she’s speaking with Joel on the train.) Great dialogue and character brainstorming by Charlie Kauffman made her character shine.

Personal Notes

I was living in East Cambridge, right by the Charles River when I read this screenplay and watched this movie. The Charles River is where Clementine takes Joel during their “first relationship”. It’s also where she takes Patrick and freaks out when he says exactly what Joel said to her when they’re laying on the ice, looking up at the stars.

PATRICK
I could die right now, Clem. I'm just happy. I've never felt that before. I'm just exactly where I want to be.

Clementine looks over at him. Their eyes meet. She sobs.

CLEMENTINE
I want to go home.

Music

https://open.spotify.com/embed/track/6PFu0gKRvsbd7rTLWJUUQ9

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