Joe Stile | Amo
The world forgot
Published: Thursday, March 14, 2013
Updated: Thursday, March 14, 2013 02:03
Last week, one of my closest friends broke up with her very long−term boyfriend. She was with him all throughout high school and college and, although it lasted for such a long time, it was a turbulent relationship to say the least.
They were the kind of couple who constantly went through a rapidly increasing cycle of being crazy−in−love, f−−king up, painfully hating each other and resignedly getting back together again. It was a touch of manic and a whole lot of codependence. They should have probably been given methadone — it was that bad. Eventually, it became too much for both of them, and they called it quits for what seems like the last time.
I’ve been talking to her a lot these past few days, and the notion she keeps coming back to is how she feels like she wasted all that time being with him. Now that it’s actually over and they won’t be one of those rare “happily−ever−afters,” she wishes she had never dated him because in her mind it amounted to nothing.
When she says things like this, I just play the part of the good friend and tell her what she needs to hear to get through this tough time, but I can’t help but to think of how “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (2004) proves her wrong.
The film, which centers on Joel’s (Jim Carrey) and Clementine’s (Kate Winslet) attempting to erase each other from their memories after their relationship turns sour, shows how much people get out of intimate connections even when they don’t work out.
“Eternal Sunshine” is one of my all−time favorite films, and I affectionately think of it as the sci−fi version of “Annie Hall” (1977). Even though the film is kind of heady and bleak at times, what really impresses me about it is how well the movie understands the idea of hope. For me, hope is the feeling of optimism for the future even if the present is fairly desolate.
Despite all the dreary skies and hurt feelings in the picture, the end, where Joel and Clementine decide to try to make it work again, despite knowing that it could end just as poorly as the last time, gets me every time. In Joel’s memories, we’ve seen glimpses of how happy and content they felt together and how much the two have gained from knowing each other. Yes, it’s sad that they get so bitter when they are growing apart, but that doesn’t negate all those times that they wholeheartedly loved one another. Each of them took something from that experience, even if it’s something they might not share together forever.
A lot of what makes all this so great is how wonderful a job screenwriter Charlie Kaufman and director Michel Gondry do in creating Joel and Clementine as individuals as well as a couple. In my mind, “Eternal Sunshine’s” script is one of the greatest ever produced because of this.
Joel is an introvert who almost blends into the walls at times, yet he gives off a sense of being a deep and slightly uneasy soul. He is trapped in his unassuming exterior.
Clementine is his opposite: she is uninhibited and loquacious, but it all seems like just a front to cover for her lack of any real self−confidence.
Together, they push each other out of their comfort zones just enough that you can see why they should work — and also why they might not be able to.
Either way, they are growing as people because of their time together, and to me, that makes it anything but a waste of time.