Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

I’ve always been fascinated with the way cinema is able to connect us with characters by means of narrative structure. For instance, Nolan’s use of a reverse-chronological structure in Memento in order to make viewers as dumbfounded as his amnesiac protagonist continues to be one of my favorite moves in any film. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind had a similar effect on me. Its structure isn’t as pronounced as that of Memento, but it still made me interface with its story emotionally and connect with it on a visceral level. When the film’s focus jarringly shifts from a man in a happy relationship to a shot of the same man hunched over his car’s steering wheel in tears, you can feel your heart sink as you experience the unforgiving, unpredictable pain of heartbreak. It’s a bold, gut-wrenching move that sets up the uncompromising complexity and honesty of the piece. And honest it is. Eternal Sunshine is unwavering in its exploration of the imperfection and dissatisfaction of love. I’ve seen plenty of films that provide an unfettered view of the human experience, but few have distilled this particular theme down to its essential characteristics. It’s not an easy watch, but with its impactful structure and beautiful exploration of romance, it’s clear to see why Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind has been heralded as one of the best movies of the 21st century thus far.

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