Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) is directed by Michel Gondry and stars Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet. This entire movie’s motif is based around depicting the past and literally revisiting memories. This film is about Jim Carrey’s character, Joel Barnish, who decides to have a procedure to erase the memories of an ex-girlfriend after a falling out in their relationship. It is in his memories he remembers what they used to have and why they fell in love.
In this scene, Joel confronts a memory of his ex-girlfriend, Clementine played by Winslet, and realizes the mistake he’s made of walking out on her, while everything in his memory deteriorates. Everything about this scene, the dialogue, acting, camera angle, special effects all beautifully illustrate Joel’s regret of his relationship while his memory fades away around him. Winslet’s dialogue is acted out as if she was herself when they were on that beach house from before. Her no-chalet attitude of the walls collapsing and floors falling through reinforces the idea that she is just a memory. Joel responds to Clementine with a voice over, but she responds back, because it is all in his head. When she responds, she responds without anger or sadness, but more as a Joel’s narrative for Joel to come to terms with the questions and answers he could never voice.
Everything about the mise-en-scene, from the ocean waves coming into the house, the walls crumbling, to the sand in the car and bedroom, all form into a beautiful dreamlike world. They all work to illustrate the elements that stood out in his memories and what made them special. Even the use of lighting is used in a literal way, to spotlight specific moments from his memory. Winslet’s voice is also echoed when off screen to add to the atmosphere of her just being in his head. The jagged cuts and different angles complement the idea of a memory disintegrating. Every element in this movie has a specific purpose in illustrating Joel’s memory and how he depicts the past, which has proven Michel Gondry’s title as a stylistic genius.