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  • Writer's pictureRonny Duncan Studios

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) feat. Joseph Burke

Updated: Oct 16, 2022

Guest: Joseph Burke - Screenwriter and Co-Host of the Clapperboard Climax podcast.

Plot Summary: After a fight, Joel Barish (played by Jim Carrey) discovers that his girlfriend Clementine Kruczynski (played by Kate Winslet) has had her memories of him erased by the New York City firm Lacuna. Heartbroken, he decides to undergo the same procedure. In preparation, he records a tape for Lacuna, recounting his memories of their volatile relationship. As the Lacuna employees work on Joel's brain as he sleeps in his apartment so that he will wake up with no memory of Clementine, Joel re-experiences his memories of Clementine as they are erased, starting with their last fight. As he reaches earlier, happier memories, he realizes that he does not want to forget her. They ultimately have to determine if love with pain is better or worse than no love at all.


  • Jim Carrey - Joel Barish

  • Kate Winslet as Clementine Kruczynski

  • Kirsten Dunst as Mary Svevo

  • Mark Ruffalo as Stan Fink

  • Elijah Wood as Patrick Wertz

  • Tom Wilkinson as Dr. Howard Mierzwiak

  • Jane Adams as Carrie Eakin

  • David Cross as Rob Eakin


  • Nominated for Best Actress (Kate Winslet)

  • Won for Best Original Screenplay (Pierre Bismuth, Michel Gondry and Charlie Kaufman)

  • The film developed a cult following in the years after its release and has come to be regarded by many critics as one of the best films of the early 21st century.

Did You Know:

  • Despite the fact that Charlie Kaufman's script and Michel Gondry's visual concepts were closely followed, the cast members were allowed many chances to improvise. Elijah Wood and Mark Ruffalo improvised extensively, and much of the dialogue between Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet resulted from videotaped rehearsal sessions, during which, the two became close by sharing tales of their real-life relationships and heartbreaks.

  • The idea for this film was brought to Michel Gondry by his friend, artist Pierre Bismuth, who suggested, "You get a card in the mail that says: someone you know has just erased you from their memory."

  • Clementine's hair goes through several color changes, blue, orange, red, green, and brown, which seems to be her natural hair color. This helps the viewer keep track of where her relationship with Joel corresponds to the plot.

  • In the tape recorded sessions with Kate Winslet, Jim Carrey accidentally wrecked the tape recorder when he got so much into the scene, he threw it across the room.

  • The opening credits appear eighteen minutes into the film, at the end of the first reel.

What is this movie is about?/Elevator Pitch: The importance of pain, loss, and grief, and knowing how to deal with them as an important part of life. Also, how we often gravitate toward repeating the same mistakes in our lives if we don't learn from them the first time.

Best Performance: Kate Winslet (Clementine)/Charlie Kaufman (Primary Writer)

Best Secondary Performance: Charlie Kaufman, Pierre Bismuth, and Michel Gondry (Writers)/Jim Carrey (Joel)/Mark Ruffalo (Stan Fink)

Most Charismatic Award: Kirsten Dunst (Mary)/Kate Winslet (Clementine)/

Best Scene:

  • Opening

  • Joel Tries to Hide in His Younger Memories

  • Howard Tells Mary

  • Ending

Favorite Scene: Ending

Most Indelible Moment: Ending/Joel is Bullied into Smashing a Bird

In Memorium:

  • Kevin Clark (32) - School of Rock

  • Robert Hogan (87) - long-time TV actor, Hogan's Heroes, Laverne and Shirley, and The Wire

  • B.J, Thomas (78) - songwriter singer, won the Oscar for Raindrops Keep Fallin on My Head from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

  • Joe Lara (58) - long-time character actor in several low budget films Lima: Breaking the Silence, American Cyborg, Operation Delta Force 4: Deep Fault, Tarzan.

Best Lines/Funniest Lines:

Mary: How happy is the blameless vestal's lot! / The world forgetting, by the world forgot / Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind! / Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd.

Mary: Blessed are the forgetful, for they get the better even of their blunders.

Joel: Why do I fall in love with every woman I see who shows me the least bit of attention?

Clementine: Too many guys think I'm a concept, or I complete them, or I'm gonna make them alive. But I'm just a fucked-up girl who's lookin' for my own peace of mind; don't assign me yours.

Clementine: Sometimes I think people don't understand how lonely it is to be a kid, like you don't matter. So, I'm eight, and I have these toys, these dolls. My favorite is this ugly girl doll who I call Clementine, and I keep yelling at her, "You can't be ugly! Be pretty!" It's weird, like if I can transform her, I would magically change, too.

Joel: Constantly talking isn't necessarily communicating...

Clementine: People have to share things.That's what intimacy is.

Joel: I can't see anything I don't like about you.

Clementine: But you will, you will think of things and I'll get bored with you and feel trapped because that's what happens with me.

Joel: Okay.

Clementine: Okay.

Joel: Sand is overrated. It's just tiny, little rocks.

Clementine: Drink up, young man. It'll make the whole seduction part less repugnant.

The Stanley Rubric:

Legacy: 6.17

Impact/Significance: 6.67

Novelty: 9.17

Classic-ness: 8.17

Rewatchability: 4.67

Audience Score: 9.35 (93% Google, 94% RT)

Total: 44.73

Remaining Questions:

  • Why wasn't Joel's car one of the things they either replaced or fixed about his relationship with Clementine?

  • Why is Mary working for Howard after her memory is wiped?

  • What happens to Howard?

  • Do Joel and Clementine try again, and, if so, do they learn enough from their past to make it?

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