blessed are the forgetful...
From the motion picture soundtrack, Beck covers this Korgis original, which plays during the opening and closing credits. MP3 courtesy Esselle (I had this song on repeat while I typed this post). Scott Lapatine over @ stereogum is also hosting Jon Brion's theme from the film.
I ventured out to the cinema Wednesday afternoon after an aborted attempt to buy new dress shoes (whadduya mean, you start carrying @ size 8? - I wear a 7 1/2, f**ker!), and pulled a double feature w/the Dawn of the Dead remake and a second look at Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. For me, ESOTSM required at least one more viewing, though I'd probably still see it again (attn: JRDN) if given the opportunity. I've got to go out & get the Charlie Kaufman screenplay asap.
CAVEAT So, I do have a few thoughts about the flick. But for those who have yet to see the movie, be forewarned - I may accidentally give away plot or story details, so read @ your own peril. I also haven't read all that much of what else has been written/said out there in the great blog-o-verse, so apologies ahead of time for any possible redundancies.
In the few things I have read, somebody suggested that the film progressively breaks down your internal cynic and resuscitates the internal romantic. I like that concept, and I think it fits in a lot of ways. Kaufman does a great job of structuring the plot, which unfolds backwards (sort of), in order to shift the audience's emotions around as he takes us on a roller-coaster ride of love & relationships. The first act begins w/the seemingly random meeting of Joel (Jim Carrey) and Clementine (Kate Winslet), and shows us the awkwardness of meeting someone & the restrained excitement of a two people coming together, though both are wary of putting themselves out there & getting hurt. I love the strange simplicity & beauty of this sequence, how hopeful and curious it made me feel, and I think the filmmakers had pretty much won me over before the main credits ran.
The Kaufman-esque complexity of what is actually going on is hinted at the end of the opening, once Elijah Wood's panty-stealing Patrick shows up asking Joel strange questions. Then the credits begin roll, and we see Joel miserable & blubbering in his car - the bitter, tearful, and lonely end of a relationship. We also get filled in on the oddball exposition, this time about wiping memories (in order to "begin again") etc, that Kaufman did such a great job with in Malkovich and Adaptation. Director Michael Gondry proceeds to take us on a tour of the pain, frustration, and claustrophobia of a struggling/crumbling relationship, showing Joel & Clem sniping at each other, getting on each others' nerves, hiding from one another. We even see Joel's friends, played by Jane Adams and David Cross, grumbling about their couple issues ("Oh, you're going to make this about our sh**?") while Joel searches for his own answers.
We see Joel re-experiencing his memories of Clem as they are being wiped away, and at first Joel enjoys the retribution of having her erased, as the ugliness of the final days/weeks of their relationship disappear. But then something happens to change Joel's mind. All it takes is one tender, warm moment for Joel to question his decision. Despite the pain of his "break-up" w/Clem, he can't bear to have that beautiful memory taken away from him, and he wants to call the whole production off. As we watch Joel desperately trying to salvage his history w/Clem, Gondry & Kaufman continue to work backward through the relationship, and we feel how much Joel increasingly cherishes his life w/Clem. The climax of the second act was specially meaningful for me, as we see Joel's final goodbye w/his memory of Clem. They recount & relive their very first meeting, talk about their regrets about how it played out, about how special it all was in hindsight. I wasn't bawling or anything, but that moment felt special to me as well. The third act, which IMO is by far the best out of all the Kaufman films, turns everything on its head & returns to the film's opening, but I won't go too much into detail lest I completely ruin the movie for everybody. Suffice it to say, for a guy who hasn't been in a whole lot of romantic relationships, I feel like I came away with a better understanding of them in general, and a greater appreciation of how people & moments can be so utterly precious in the long run. But what do I know...?
Who cares? Go see the movie, you fools.
Also, check out what Sean has the say about the flick over @ said the gramaphone. He's far more eloquent than I.