One of those films I always meant to see but never got round to. Last night I finally saw it and it threw me in a turbulent emotional state. Relationships and love. That’s what the film is really about and never mind the science-fiction twist of erasing all memories. Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet’s relationship rings so true – the cruelty they show towards each other manifested by the nastiest comments – we can all recognise it, from having lived it or observed it. When people love each other, and love each other passionately, they tend to hurt each other too. There is this scene when Joel (Jim Carrey) talks about the fact that Clementine (Kate Winslet) likes to change the colour of her hair and he very simply and cruelly states that it’s because she is insecure and she wants people to like her. He also adds that her insecurities is why she fucks people. It’s such a vicious thing to say, yet he loves her. She is the best thing that ever happened to him as he admits, but their relationship has disintegrated into bitterness and pain. The twist, of course is that Clementine decides to have all memories of Joel erased from her mind. When he finds out he is unsurprisingly crushed and resolves to do the same. Except that Joel finds out mid-process that he wants to hang on to the good memories so he has to try to hide Clementine in the recesses of his mind. Cue a drawn out but touching fight in which we discover the “happy” times in Joel and Clementine’s relationship, such sweet and heart-rending moments -all the more moving after the bitterness we have witnessed so far.
What the film is asking is: are the emotionally happy times of a relationship worth it when you know it ends in tears and misery? Would it be better to have never lived it at all? And can you really erase someone out of your memory without losing bits of yourself?
Clementine is the impulsive type and she erases Joel first. She doesn’t even know who he is the next day. I can’t lie and say such an option wouldn’t be tempting at times – erasing a person completely and forgetting all the pain and stress they have caused you- who wouldn’t be tempted? But, I’m afraid that like Joel, I would probably end up regretting it halfway through. When a relationship goes wrong, all you remember is the pain but at the back of that wall of agony, there is joy, tenderness, passion. So many moments that you have lived and loved and which have shaped who you are, just as the painful moments have.
Jim Carrey is excellent as Joel, an ordinary, almost desperate guy who falls for the kooky Clementine. Kate Winslet is perfect too, managing not to make Clementine too sympathetic – she’s a wild girl but emotionally insecure and you can tell from the beginning that she is going to be difficult to live with.
Their couple is incredibly real, true to life, from the joyful moments to the vicious ones. I must admit the film really moved me. There are a couple of people I’ve been tempted to erase from my memory and life. Would I have done it if I’d been able to? Maybe, like Clementine I can be impulsive. Should I have done it if I’d been able to? Probably not but I can’t be sure of that.
What I do know, is that the sight of Joel and Clementine at the end, agreeing to give the relationship another go moved me to tears. They know that it might go wrong again – it might end in exactly the same way it did the first time – but they remembered the love in time, the love hidden behind the arguments and accusations. Joel and Clementine might make it this time. They might. I hope they do.