Joel (Jim Carrey) learns that his ex-girlfriend Clementine (Kate Winslet) has undergone a procedure to remove her memories of him and their relationship. He lashes out the only way he knows how – by deciding to do the same thing. A funny thing happens along the way: he realizes that for every bit of misery they subjected each other to, there were just as many moments of happiness. He changes his mind about the procedure, but it may be too late for him to hold onto the memories that are already being stripped away from him.
Beautifully crafted, this is one of those films that will stick with you – some of the scenes are straight-up art. Even a simple conversation at a bookstore, while expertly painting Clemetine’s quirkiness, beautifully juxtaposes that with the fading tapestry of Joel’s memory as it all fades away. When the rains come in Joel’s childhood memories, there’s a good chance that those won’t be the only waterworks. Despite all of that, it’s Carrey and Winslet that make this movie. Carrey restrains his usual zaniess and becomes a perfectly quirky (if dull) man struggling to find himself in the whirlwind that is Winslet’s Clementine. It’s easy to get lost right off the bat with this film, as it picks up in the middle of the story. But if you let the story unravel a bit, you quickly find that this is much more than your average dramedy. For starters, we see the fallout of their breakup before we see their breakup…before we even realize they were together in the first place. As the two scramble through Joel’s sleeping mind in an attempt to hide Clementine away – to retain some memory of her and of their time together – the movie comes into its own. The two somehow reach out across the void to reconnect only to seemingly have it all shattered once again soon thereafter. Will love triumph? Is it worth it even if you know how it will turn out?
You’re going to need to let this movie take you away a bit and roll with the pseudo-science. As long as you’re willing to do that, this is a perfectly charming look at just what goes into love and just what makes loss hurt so much.