The name is deceiving if you really think about it, or maybe it is just hell bent to prove everything we know about neurology wrong. The pivotal concept around which the movie revolves
is that if we burn through the neurons and synapses associated with the memories of a person, we can erase that person from the psyche (both conscious and unconscious) all together; as
if that person never really existed at all. Isn’t this the perfect cure for broken hearts and failed relationships?
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind starts with a clueless Jim Carrey (Joel) compulsively arriving at Montauk train-station. There he encounters a chatterbox and feisty kind of girl Clementine played by Kate winslet.
After 10 minutes of quick escalation between them (as if they were lovers already), the movies moves entirely in flashback until the closing moments.
Yeah, I did kind of “spoiled” it, but eternal sunshine isn’t counting out this big reveal to drive the vision home. It’s bigger than that. The obfuscation in the chronology of events is there to demand and hold our attentions. Both Jim Carrey and Kate are great at their roles. Kirsten Dunst is decent enough, Mark Rufallo is uninspiring, though. Maybe the whole nerd-technician character is meant to be so dull. It got me thinking why it is so star studded, the concept and the execution was original enough.
In its most widely accepted and applied form, neurology works under the assumption that all we feel, all that we have gone through, all the memories, all the personality changes we go through is only in our heads. Bunch of neurons making synaptic bridges between themselves and associating with other parts of our brain can account for everything. MRI scans can easily detect the electric impulses between neurons when a memory is relived.
Such an elegant concept: memories are made up of neural connections and neurons connect through electric impulses, reliving a memory activates these electric pathways which can be mapped/tagged with MRI machines giving us the exact location of the neurons responsible for the memory in question. Destroy them, burn them with precise invasive voltage application and that’s it; you’re free. You’re as pure and innocent as a baby.
Well, it doesn’t work like that in real life. Parts of someone we’ve been intimate with always stay with us (both biologically and spiritually). The characters in the movie keep falling for the same person again and again even after going through the procedure a few times. When Jim is going through the procedure sedated, every voltage impingement stimulates the memories again and since he’s asleep he relives them as lucid dreams where he tries to save her from getting deleted by running around to deeper chambers of guilt, humiliation and childhood. The subtext here is that once we’re “exposed” we are free.
If nothing else, Eternal sunshine of a spotless mind is a clever and entertaining study into consciousness and transcendental human connection. Will work as a twisted love story with a lot of heart as well.
The pace of the movie is praise worthy, neither hastened nor a drudgery, just the right intensity to let everything sink in without any hint of boredom. The background score is just perfect, constant melodious beats puts you in the zone without being overpowering. All in all a great experience to sit through.
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