Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) wakes up one morning and everything is very strange. Pages have been torn out of his diary and he discovers a large dent in his car. He feels like something isn’t right but can’t put his finger on what it is. Joel goes to the train station and instead of getting on his usual train decides to get a different train.
The audience is then brought back in time to a conversation Joel has with his friends. Joel learns that his girlfriend, Clementine (Kate Winslet), has had all memories of him erased by a new medical procedure which can selectively erase painful memories from the brain. Joel is very hurt by this and decides to undergo the same procedure himself. However during the procedure he suddenly realises he loves his memories of his time with Clementine and doesn’t want to lose them.
The movie is scripted by Charlie Kaufman, (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation) and as you might expect is quirky, clever and highly original. It could have gone down the science fiction road and concentrated on the medical procedure and developed this idea further which would have made it similar, in many ways, to the Matrix. However, the movie concentrates more on love, relationships, the pain of a break-up and the beautiful, and painful, memories that go with them. Above all else it is a love story, but with a difference.
I found the movie to be quite confusing and frustrating in the beginning with flashbacks causing the story to jump but it progresses well and comes together very cleverly.
Jim Carry is totally unrecognisable as Joel Barish, the clown which he plays so well completely disappears and he plays a very sedate and introverted character. Joel’s free-spirited girlfriend, Clementine, is played by Kate Winslet. Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet bring a real charm to the mismatched characters.
There is good support from Kirsten Dunst and Tom Wilkinson as doctors at the Lacuna Inc. who carry out the procedure to erase clients painful memories. Elijah Wood and Mark Ruffalo are also good in their roles.
The Bottom Line: A beautifully shot film which is thought provoking. You come out of it remembering the nice things about your own memories.
Last Thought: Memories can be beautiful and painful, but they are precious.