Last night I was feeling particularly lazy, so I decided to watch a movie on Netflix Instant. Several movies have been in my Instant Queue since I got Netflix in January. The one I chose was Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Just a little behind the times, I know. How could I, a Kate Winslet fan, have never seen this movie from 2004? The answer is Jim Carrey. I just don’t like him very much. Even though I knew this was a dramatic role, I never felt motivated to go out and rent the movie. But now, as it sat on my computer, free for the taking, I wanted to give it a shot. For Kate!
I found that I actually liked Jim Carrey in the movie, instead of liking the movie in spite of him. His physicality translated quite well into the melancholy main character. Give him a shaggy haircut and he becomes a sad puppy dog! There was only one moment when I thought, “Oh no, he’s reverting to Ace Ventura,” but it passed quickly and mercifully. Kate Winslet was wonderful, as usual. Then again, I’m obviously biased in her favor. I loved how her character is (literally) a splash of color against a drab landscape through the movie.
As the IMDB link will tell you, the basic plot is that a couple decides to erase their memories of each other after an ugly breakup. (Bring your tolerance for science-fiction or don’t bother coming.) It reminded me of several films that have come after it: Inception and (500) Days of Summer, one of my favorites in recent years. Inception because the memory-erasing scenes reminded me of the dream sequences. Both processes are complicated enough that a person might be inspired to watch a second time, just trying to figure out exactly what happened. (500) Days of Summer because of the nonlinear storytelling paired with an honest look at the disintegration of a relationship. It’s rather unsettling to see the beginning of a relationship when you know how it will end. The end seems to echo the beginning, at least when constructed by screenwriters.
I appreciate that Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind made me think. The obvious question to viewers is whether they would erase someone from their memory if they could. Right after a breakup, I can imagine that being a very tempting option. The film makes a very good counterpoint, which is that you would have to lose the good memories along with the bad. It seems to me that the best and worst memories often involve the same people because those are the people you care about the most. My first reaction, though, was that you would lose all the lessens learned from that experience. Then wouldn’t you just repeat the same mistakes? I’ll keep the perspective, thanks!