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you were right, this is much more comfortable with clothes on...

R

Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood, Kirsten Dunst, Tom Wilkinson

Joel: Random thoughts for Valentines Day 2004:  Today is a holiday invented by greeting card companies to make people feel like crap.

When Joel (Carrey) finds out that Clementine (Winslet) has had the memory of their entire relationship erased, he undergoes the same procedure.  As he starts to encounter memories that he doesn’t want to lose, Joel tries to figure out a way to wake up from the procedure, or at least a way to hide the memories of Clementine somewhere in the dark recesses of his mind.

Well, it was Valentines Day and I was looking for something relevant to watch.  So, why not just go ahead and watch my favorite movie?

Where should I start with my praise?  How about Carrey and Winslet.  After seeing a bit of the soul-torture that is Ace Ventura, I basically despised Mr. Carrey.  But, he gradually started to win me over with roles in other movies, like Dumb and Dumber and The Truman Show.  Then came this movie, and the winning-me-over process was complete.  As for Winslet, well, she’s basically created one of my favorite characters of all time.  It’s amazing what she can do with subtle mannerisms and a simple look.  Plus, I think the accent she achieves is impressive.  She’s not just faking an American accent, but an American accent with a slight New York accent on top of it that only emerges here and there, which seems more realistic to me.  The greatness of the Clementine character can also be partly credited to the costume designers/wardrobe people.  Gotta love that orange sweatshirt (and matching hair).

Okay, on to the story now.  If you could erase someone from your memory…someone who you miss greatly or who hurt you terribly…would you?  Is it worth losing the good memories to get rid of the bad memories?  Or do we need all that pain in order to grow as people?  As Westley said in The Princess Bride, “life IS pain…anyone who says differently is selling something.”  You take away the pain, you take away life.

The movie begins with a meeting between the odd but charming Clementine and the quiet but “really nice” Joel.  They gravitate toward each other and immediately fall into conversation as though they’d known each other for a long time.  How could these two ever have problems?  Well, as the memory erase is started on Joel and we begin backtracking through their relationship, we get to see how they gradually grew apart.  Joel doesn’t communicate well, which then annoys Clementine, who then gets bored and angry all the time.  No wonder they both want each other gone.

But then come the good memories.  The moments Joel wants to hold on to.  So, at memory-Clementine’s suggestion, Joel tries to take her to the secret, hidden, embarrassing places in his mind.  Places he would never allow her when they were together.  I think this is brilliant writing by Charlie Kaufman.  I imagine he’s had this kind of problem in a relationship before and knows now that you need to be an “open book”, as Clementine tells Joel.  Showing that through this elaborate memory exploration is genius.

Michel Gondry’s inventive directing style is exactly what was needed to bring the story to life.  Apparently there were very few digital, post production tricks used, which is hard to believe at times.  Either way, it’s beautiful when it needs to be and nightmarishly dreamy when that’s called for.

I haven’t even touched on the story of the memory wipers.  Stan (Ruffalo) and Mary (Dunst) smoke weed, dance, and engage in other activities around Joel as his internal battle rages on.  Meanwhile, poor loser Patrick (Wood) is off trying to seduce the real life Clementine using all of the stuff he got from her and Joel’s files.  These stories seem a little extraneous at first, but once again Kaufman manages to weave them all back together perfectly.

This is getting a bit long, and I could probably go on longer about the music, the little details of the sets, and the performances of the supporting cast, but what’s the point?  You’ll probably just forget it all anyways…

I’ll close by saying, it’s probably not a perfect movie (but what is?), and I can actually understand why some wouldn’t like it nearly as much as I do, but…well, that’s the thing about favorite movies, they usually touch people in a very specific way.  For me, I can see myself in Joel a bit.  Not just because I’m nice, but because I’m sure I’ve uttered his phrase “my life just isn’t that interesting” many times.  Though, I’ve yet to have a Clementine come fluttering into my life unfortunately…

SOMEBODY out there has got the job of making up names for hair dye colors…

10 – .4 for a couple of parts that are a little slow or bothersome = 9.6