Movie Notes: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

This film evoked in me what Sam Keen calls a “fire in the belly”—that emotion that is characterized by a longing to be more than we are—or perhaps its more accurate to say to be the best of who we are.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Directed by Michel Gondry. With Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Tom Wilkinson, Gerry Robert Byrne.

Eternal Sunshine is a penetrating film about love, loss and rediscovery. It isolates the best and worst about love and attempts to show us that we should embrace both if we want to cherish the most magical parts of life and use the ugly to amplify the beautiful. Writer Charlie Kaufman is genius at allowing his characters to be real and in Eternal Sunshine, Carrey and Winslet take this permission seriously. Drama takes on a uniquely authentic flavor even through the necessarily exaggerated portrayal of genuinely human moments. Like many of his movies, Kaufman explores his themes by leveraging the uniquely creative elements of film. Unlike live performance, film gives the artist an unlimited canvas to play with time, perspective, emotion, and depth and Kaufman uses these elements to their fullest.

Kaufman’s characters are vulnerable, imperfect, wickedly funny, heroic at times and horrific in others. They are who we are and Kaufman is brilliant at helping us relate to them with all their flaws and virtues. This film evoked in me what Sam Keen calls a “fire in the belly”—that emotion that is characterized by a longing to be more than we are—or perhaps its more accurate to say to be the best of who we are. We do this partly by acknowledging the aspects of our personality we despise which ultimately neuters them.

There’s a lot to say about the details of this film but perhaps the biggest takeaway is this: there is no perfect in life or in others so remember the best of the past but, most important, live each moment to the fullest. In the end, that’s all we really ever have. 9 out of 10 stars for me.

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