The other film I watched the other day was Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
If ever I was asked to compile my favourite films, this would be right up there, jostling for top spot.
It stars Jim Carrey – no, don’t be put off, he’s in Truman Show rather than Ace Ventura mode, so there’s almost zero comedy gurning – and Kate Winslet (ably supported by the likes of Tom Wilkinson, Elijah Wood, Kirsten Dunst, and Mark Ruffalo), both of them putting in to my mind their finest performances.
I imagine most of you have seen this film, but just in case, here’s the synopsis from Imdb:
“When their relationship turns sour, a couple undergoes a medical procedure to have each other erased from their memories.”
Short, but sweet, that, innit?
It’s a little more complex than that, and is told in a fractious sort-of-flashback Memento-style, which means you really have to pay attention. But to flesh it out a little more without giving too much away, Joel (Carrey) learns that his ex-girlfriend Clementine (Winslet) has had said medical procedure to remove all trace of his existence from her memory, and so he decides to have the same procedure to remove her from his. Needless to say, all does not go to plan…
Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish your love of a film or a song or whatever from where you were in your life when you first encountered it. It’s why so many people my age love The Smiths, for example, because we recognise how those songs spoke to us as lonely, bedroom-bound adolescents; or The Stone Roses first album, because it reminds us of our first flush of adult (albeit it at University) life. They caught us at just the right moment so as to leave an indelible mark.
And so it is with Eternal Sunshine…, for much as I love the film anyway, whenever I watch it, and whenever I hear today’s song which is on the soundtrack, I’m immediately transported back to when I first saw it.
I was still living in the flat of filth with Llŷr, and his younger sister Sian was sofa-surfing at ours. She was still plugging gamefully away as I recall, trying to catch a break acting, but at the time was “between jobs”, working in a bar down in Cardiff Bay.
Although she’d been living with us for a couple of weeks, I didn’t really know Sian. Up until then, Llŷr was around whenever she was at home, and every evening the two of them would be sitting on the sofa/her bed, fighting and laughing and riffing off each other and reminding each of “…that time when…”; I loved watching the two of them do that brother and sister thing, winding each other up even though it was perfectly obvious they absolutely thought the world of each other.
We’d met a couple of times before; the first time she denies all knowledge of, the second time she was meeting Llŷr for lunch and I happened to bump into them. Llŷr told me afterwards (so, open to challenge in a Gene fanclub membership kinda way) that she had asked who I was and he was incredulous that (given we’d met before) he’d had to explain that I was his flatmate.
Anyway, it was a Friday afternoon, and so it could be that this was just two days before Llŷr had his first ‘episode’. Sian had the day off, and no plans; I subscribed to Netflix-forerunner Love Film! – where you rented movies on DVD online and they were posted out to you – had just received Eternal Sunshine… and decided to take an impromptu day off work to watch it.
We sat in absolute silence throughout – yeh, I know me being quiet! – and both had to have a little moment after it had finished to compose ourselves. (I’m an absolute sap when it comes to this sort of thing; if something stokes that reaction in me, you’ll often catch me avoiding your gaze, looking out of the window, pretending I have something in my eye. I still well up at the final episode of Friends, for Christ’s sake).
I think Sian spoke first: “Wow”. Which seemed to sum it up pretty well.
And to cap it all, this is on the soundtrack; a cover version, granted, of a record from 1980 by The Korgis – but one which, whilst not exactly straying from the original, absolutely smashes it out of the park: