Is ‘Eternal Sunshine’ hopeful or depressing? Or both?

Spoilers follow. But the movie’s 12 years old so … come on.

I am not lukewarm on much. In general, something is the greatest thing on the planet, or it is the very worst thing I’ve ever encountered.

This is especially true with movies. Up until Sunday afternoon, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” was on my Worst Movie Ever list.

Which has always been strange to me. People seem to love that movie. I’m not sure I’d ever know someone else to dislike it.

But it did nothing for me. My major issue was, I felt, the lack of character development. I simply did not care about Joel and Clementine’s relationship; and by not caring about it, I didn’t root for them; and by not rooting for them, I had absolutely no stake in the end of the movie.

Sunday, I gave it another try. Sunday, I realized I was an idiot.

Because “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” is a damn incredible flick. (Welcome to the party, Jaclyn. You’re late.)

I love that Joel and Clem are flawed, and I root for them to figure it out. I root for them to outrun the memory wiping. I root for them to ignore the obvious signs that they have no business dating. I cheer when they decide, in fact, to ignore the forgotten audio tapings that list the other’s fatal flaws and massive deal breakers.

The movie has been on the back of my mind for the last day or so, and I can’t figure something out: Is the ending hopeful? On the surface, it is, absolutely. They’re going to try again. They may very well fail. But that inexplicable something that draws us to another is so strong, they decide to follow that instead of listening to reason.

It’s rosy, and it’s romantic. And it’d have never been possible without Dr. M’s magic memory machine.

So the machine that helps the lovers forget is also responsible for those lovers’ eventual heart re-break. Because you know: These two cannot be together. So they’re going to go through all the bad stuff again.

Which is dire, and depressing.

My brain hurts.

(Any Eternal Sunshine lovers out there, please weigh in: What do you love about it? Is the ending hopefully depressing or depressingly hopeful?)


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