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Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind title card

Year - 2001
Studio - Focus Features
Stars - Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Mark Ruffalo, Kirsten Dunst, Tom Wilkinson, Elijah Wood
Director - Michael Gondry
Writing Credits - Charlie Kaufman, Michael Gondry Pierre Bismuth (story), Charlie Kaufman (screenplay)
Music - Jon Brion


Joel (Jim Carrey) and Clementine (Kate Winslet) see each other on a cold beach, and they later chat on their commuter train return. Kate is free spirited and impulsive, Joel is cautious and withdrawn, but they enjoy each other's company and ultimately fall in love.

Their relationship eventually grows stale, and when Joel visits Clementine at her book store job, she seems to not even recognize him and apparently has a new boy friend. He discovers that Kate has undergone a process to have all her memories of him erased. As he agonizes over this, Joel decides that memory erasure is the only remedy for his broken heart as well.

He goes to Lacuna, a storefront technology firm, where Dr. Howard Mierzwiak (Tom Wilkinson) explains the procedure to him, that he must bring in all objects in his possession that remind him of Clementine, and they will create a brain map so that those memories can be erased.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind poster

The all night procedure takes place in Joel's apartment, conducted by two apathetic Lacuna technicians, Stan (Mark Ruffalo) and Patrick (Elijah Wood). They clown around and banter while Joel, electrodes connected to his scalp, undergoes the memory erasing. Patrick confesses to Stan that he fell in love with Clementine when they did her procedure and has stolen Joel's memories to use to win her over. Mary (Kirstin Dunst), the Lacuna receptionist shows up and she and Stan party and have sex, after Patrick leaves to see Clementine. Stan's failure to monitor the erasing in progress, causes him to lose track of Joel's mind, so Dr. Mierzwiak is called to assist.

The unconscious Joel relives fragments of the memories in his mind and, as they disappear, he understands how wonderful many of them are and tries, without success, to halt the process. He and Clementine attempt to cling to each other by deliberately going to memories where the brain technicians would not expect to find them. With Dr. Mierzwick in hot pursuit and Joel's visual images rapidly deconstructing, the two desperately race from memory to memory.

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