While Debbie was here, I shared with her Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. This is a favorite film of mine. I’ve seen it no less than 7 times — often when I was in “a mood”. If you have not seen it, you really must. And if you don’t want any spoilers, you should probably stop reading now, because the film’s story and ending will be mentioned soon.

It’s really amazing what your current state of mind can do to perception. The first time I saw this film (at home, unfortunately, as it is incredible visually) I think I came out in a slight state of shock. It was kinda like, “what just happened there?” I understood the film — which can be a feat in itself. I thought, “How hopeless. They can never make it. And they know it. And yet, with no actual memory of the relationship going bad, they are fated to try again.” I felt like if I’d seen it in the theater, I’d have had to have been asked to leave by the folks cleaning the place — it wouldn’t have even occurred to me to get up and walk out at the end.

Other times, I would watch it and ponder, “They have these tapes that tell them the pitfalls ahead. Without the anger and hurt that split them up in the first place, could knowing how it failed help them make it?”

Later, as I came to realize my marriage was beyond repair, I rented it for the Nth time (I still do not own it, but I really should), and I watched again from yet a different perspective. I watched as the bitter faded away with erasure to early relational bliss. I looked back at my own relationship, and I could see the good times in it. They were tainted by my current situation. We had both changed so much, and those good times were no longer available. They wouldn’t be coming back. They stood simply to contrast the “now” from the “then.” The credits scene, where Joel is in the car listening to Beck’s “Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime” had me in tears. I still have to fight that when I watch it now.

Again, at the end, all I could think was that they were cursed to do it all over again (a theme that was present in the film in a few places). Everyone changes over the course of a relationship. You fall for someone in the “impression phase”, and it’s all up to chance whether you can live with them afterward. Erasing the exposure to the latter phase left this poor couple with only the impression phase to go on.

I’ve watched the film since my divorce, and since I’ve been with Jess. And this time it was different. It was like they had let the relationship slide, and at the end, with the tapes to guide them, they could avoid that the second time around. Otherwise, hearing how it ended would have stopped them from starting again, right? They were going to make it!

I watched with Debbie because weeks and weeks ago I rented a DVD from Netflix of Michel Gondry’s music videos and have yet to return it. I was showing them to her, and this movie came to mind because it’s also from Gondry. So we streamed it. I didn’t intend to finish the film, as we’d started late, and I knew the ending. But I guess I can’t leave this movie, even when precious sleep is at stake. The end of the film came, and she questioned why they got back together. This time, I didn’t have a definitive answer. The future is open and love is strong, and I guess that is why they got back together. There was no way to know how they’d fare.

What did you think of this film? Did it affect you, or was it just a movie? If you saw it in a theater, would you say it couldn’t have the same impact coming from the small screen? What were your thoughts on what happened after the closing credits?

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