Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Script

Labels: By Jessie Fey on Wednesday, May 11, 2011

About a week or so ago at work, a “let’s discuss ways we can improve things” meeting eventually evolved into a “let’s encourage Jess on her dream of being a writer and discuss different films that excel in the area of character development” conversation. Yeah, it happened. One of my bosses suggested watching “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” Last night, I finally got around to watching it.

Now, I went into this movie being told by one boss that it was the greatest love story of all time. Another boss told me he hated it. Bold statements, especially the first.

So I watched it. As the title of this post suggests, the script of this film is flawless. Listen to that first conversation between Joel and Clem on the train. If you don’t have an understanding for each of their characters by the end of that conversation, well, I would probably just tell you to stop watching. You’re probably one of those people who like the Twilight series more than the Harry Potter series. Actually, you’re probably the person that hasn’t read either series but still waits in line to see the next installment at midnight. And your favorite character in HP is Harry. Crucio! (You probably don’t know what that means.) I don’t know if I’m proud of or seriously concerned of my ability to work Harry Potter into everything.

Alright, back to it. This is when a movie review would put that “spoiler alert” warning thing up. It means to stop reading if you don’t want to know what happens in the movie. **Spoiler Alert**

As I watched Joel try to save his memories of Clem, I curled up into the fetal position and let the tears flow. It was to the point where I dramatically let them drip down my face and soak my pillow. No shame. Not only is Joel attempting to salvage Clem’s memory, he’s also forced to relive his memories with her for the last time. Regret is both inevitable and unbearable.

Clementine: I wish you'd stayed.
Joel:  I wish I'd stayed too. Now I wish I'd stayed. I wish I'd done a lot of things. Oh, God, I wish I had... I wish I'd stayed. I do.

(There’s at least one person that you want to have that exact exchange with. You need to be Joel, and say it, or you need to be Clem, and hear it.) Finding out about the relationship between Kirsten Dunst’s character and the doctor (whose names I can’t remember) didn’t help. Blindsided. She had her memory of their relationship erased and she fell in love with him again. That’s not really what the movie is about, though. Joel and Clem find themselves in a rather odd situation. Neither of them have memories of their first relationship, but they’re listening to tapes of themselves talk about the other person in pretty intimate ways. They’re told from the start what they’ll hate about each other and how fucked up their relationship is going to be. And what do they do? They say, “Okay.” But it’s so much more than “okay.” It’s “Yeah, we’re going to piss each other off. We’re going to bitch at each other a lot, and this is probably going to end the same way as it did the first time. But we don’t care.” To quote Matt, “’O.K.’ was the most sincere and touching version of ‘I love you’ that I have ever heard.” That’s what it’s all about, really. Joel and Clem being willing to go through hell all over again because they know, even if they fail miserably, it’ll be worth it. That’s when you know you love/loved someone. When you can look back on something that didn’t end the way you wanted it to, something that caused you a lot of heartache, and still want to do it all over again for the sake of what it was.

The point when calm tears turned into body-wrenching sobs?

Clementine: This is it, Joel. It’s going to be gone soon.
Joel: I know.
Clementine: What do we do?
Joel: Enjoy it.

Quite possibly the most beautiful idea that ever floated.