Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is one of the most unique cinematic love stories of all time. The film stars Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet as lovers who break up with each other and both decide to have an experimental procedure done to erase the other from their memories. Thanks to the performances, the visually inventive direction from Michel Gondry, and a mind-bending script from Charlie Kaufman; the film is, ironically, unforgettable.
Eternal Sunshine is sweet, funny and has a lot of very interesting things to say about love and relationship. Needless to say, there are some extremely memorable and profound quotes in the film. Revisit this unique masterpiece with some of the most unforgettable lines from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
10 "Why do I fall in love with every woman I see that shows me the least bit of attention?"
Jim Carrey gives one of the best performances of his career as Joel. Very different from the usual energetic roles Carrey is most known for, Joel is a real sad-sack. He's very insecure and shut-off from the world around which causes him to avoid other people. Furthermore, his loneliness also makes him very desperate for love.
As he narrates the opening of the film, Joel sees a beautiful woman on the empty beach in Montauk and is instantly drawn to her. While Joel thinks this reaction is pathetic, little does he know he is already in love with this girl.
9 "Drink up, young man. It'll make the whole seduction part less repugnant."
In the first instance of Joel and Clementine interacting, it is clear these two are very different people. She is spontaneous and blunt while he is reserved and soft-spoken. Yet there is also an undeniable connection between the two.
As they go back to Clementine's apartment and share a drink, she breaks the ice with this teasing line. The moment is funny but also cements the vast difference between the two, as Clementine is comfortable making such a joke while Joel squirms awkwardly. It could hint that maybe they were never going to work as a couple.
8 "Too many guys think I'm a concept..."
Too many guys think I'm a concept, or I complete them, or I'm going to make them alive. But I'm just a f***ed-up girl who's looking for my own peace of mind. Don't assign me yours.
Clementine is a very layered and interesting character, rather rare traits in Hollywood love stories. While her ever-changing hair and free-spirit attitude might seem like the typical "Manic Pixie Dream Girl" type, she continues to reveal more about herself to create a deeper character.
With Joel as the main character, it would be easy for the audience to side with him in the break-up and view her as being irrational. In the beginning, Clementine warns Joel of her eccentricities and what she needs from him to make their relationship work. He agrees but ultimately fails to follow through.
7 "What a loss to spend that much time with someone, only to find out that she's a stranger."
One of the themes of the movie is getting to know the people you're in a relationship with rather than just being in a relationship. In the end, Joel understands that he might not have done everything he could have to make things work and get to know the real Clementine.
As he looks back on their failed relationship, he laments the fact that they didn't know each other well at all. These words come back to haunt him when Clementine becomes a literal stranger.
6 "I wanna call it off!"
The concept of erasing a past relationship from your mind is a unique and brilliant idea on its own, but Kaufman brings a lot more interesting concepts to the table. Every time the movie settles in with one mind-blowing idea, it introduces another and the story grows.
As Joel is reliving his memories with Clementine, he starts to realize he is going to miss them. Painfully, he regrets the procedure as the memories continue to fade. It's a beautiful moment of Joel realizing the pain is worth all the good memories as well as haunting as you wonder if others had similar regrets during the procedure.
5 "I can't remember anything without you."
When Joel decides he doesn't want to lose these memories anymore, the film brilliantly pivots to a sort of chase film within Joel's mind. He and Clementine try to outrun the procedure as it wipes her from his mind.
When it becomes clear that running isn't an option, Clementine suggests Joel hides her in a recollection that has nothing to do with her. Sweetly, Joel can't recall anything from his life before Clementine. For anyone who has been in love, the notion of that relationship becoming your entire world is very relatable.
4 "Well, technically it IS brain damage."
The film wisely doesn't spend too much time explaining the fictional procedure at its center. Clearly, this is not something that is possible in our own world and it drifts into the world of science-fiction. That being said, the characters within the movie don't regard it as too "out-there" of an idea and it's treated as mundane as cosmetic surgery.
In one of the brief scenes where the procedure is discussed, Dr. Howard (Tom Wilkinson) addresses Joel's concerns about the possible dangers. Bluntly, he says that the procedure is literally brain damage "on par with a night of heavy drinking", as he says.
3 "What if you stayed this time?"
Joel's memories eventually lead him back to the place where he and Clementine first met. As he relives the scene, he laments that his own insecurities prevented him from staying with her. As this last memory begins to fade, Clementine asks that he stay this time instead of leaving.
The moment is a memory, so as much as Joel might want to, he can't change the fact that he left. However, this line has a deeper meaning to their relationship. If they had another shot, what could he do differently? What effort could he make to ensure it works this time around?
2 "Meet me in Montauk."
As that final memory fades, Clementine whispers to Joel asking him to meet him in that same place they first met. It is at that moment the movie comes full-circle and reveals another layer of its brilliance.
Joel and Clementine somehow leave themselves a clue to return to each other, even though every memory together was erased. Even more mind-bending, it is revealed the first scene of the movie where they seem to meet for the first time is actually them meeting all over again.
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.
Unlike most cinematic love stories, this one has a bittersweet ending. Joel and Clementine find each other again and seem ready to jump back into the relationship. Unfortunately, they are soon confronted with the fact that they tried to erase each other from their memories.
Knowing they will eventually come to resent each other and find things they hate about each other, Joel is willing to still go through with it. He has learned that even though it might not work out, the time they have together is precious and worth the pain that may come later.