Today is the 11th anniversary of “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” It’s a film that’s very special to me for a number of reasons.
I didn’t see “Eternal Sunshine” until my senior year of high school, almost exactly two years ago. I’ve probably watched it a hundred times since, and it’s become very near and dear to my heart. I have an “Eternal Sunshine” poster hanging in my room. I have an “Eternal Sunshine” phone case. If you know me, I’ve almost definitely made you watch the movie with me at least once.
I have always been a fan of Jim Carrey. I grew up watching “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” “Ace Ventura,” and “A Series of Unfortunate Events.” When I got older, I loved “Yes Man,” “I Love You, Phillip Morris,” and “Horton Hears a Who,” all of which left me in stitches. I had never seen him in a serious role before, and I was captivated by his role as reserved, shy Joel Barish.
Instantly, I found myself relating to Joel. I can be quiet and introverted and, above all, awkward. I doodle in journals on a daily basis. I’m a romantic. I tend to let people have more power over me than they should. I often don’t know what to say. I, like Joel, would have run away from Clementine at the beach and been too afraid to walk out onto the frozen lake.
But I could also see myself in Clementine (a perfect as always Kate Winslet). Granted, I’m not spontaneous and I don’t dye my hair “Blue Ruin,” but she’s more than the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. She’s irritable and erratic and, in her own words, “just a fucked-up girl who’s looking for (her) own peace of mind.”
The thing I love about “Eternal Sunshine” is how truthful it is. Every time I watch it, I learn something new about it and about myself/relationships/love:
You can try as hard as you can to make a relationship work, but sometimes…it just won’t. There’s no such thing as a perfect relationship. Everybody has flaws, everybody has baggage. You’re not going to be completely happy all the time. Love isn’t easy, and “Eternal Sunshine” shows all of its complexities.
You can’t force a connection. When Patrick uses Joel’s possessions and words to make Clementine fall in love with him, it’s not right — the connection isn’t there. Clementine feels like something’s wrong. Sometimes it’s just not meant to be, and you have to accept that.
That being said, if it’s meant to be, it will happen. When Clementine and Joel erase each other from their memories, they end up finding each other again.
Past experiences, even the painful ones, make you who you are. If you erase all the memories of people who ever did you wrong, you won’t grow. We love who we love, and sometimes we love the wrong person. The good and the bad shape us, and (hopefully) we learn from the hurt. It sucks at the time, but going through rough times only benefits us in the future.
The first time I saw this movie, I was in the midst of my very first breakup and I had no idea what was going on. This movie made me feel so much less alone. Every time I’m going through hard times and boys are being stupid, “Eternal Sunshine” will always be there for me. The film’s universal feelings of love, loss, and loneliness are like a giant hug around your heart.
So happy birthday, “Eternal Sunshine.” Thank you for impacting my life.