Of course, a science fiction for which two strange guys like Michael Gondry, director, and Charlie Kaufman, screenwriter, are responsible, is going to move by any path except by which we can hope. It all starts when Joel Barish and Clementine Kruczynski meet on a train, and they feel a mutual attraction that they can’t explain. What they do not know is that they were a couple before and that, after a strong fight, Clementine resorted to the procedure created by the Lacuna company to erase all the memories of Joel from her mind; and that he, enraged when he found out, decided to do the same. However, in Joel’s case things have not turned out so well, as, while undergoing the erasure process, he realizes that he does not want to give up his memories of Clementine. But that one has already begun and Joel has to fight within his own mind against the efforts of the technicians to eradicate Clementine.
The film takes place in different settings, but especially in one specific setting: Joel’s brain. Hence, its structure is anything but linear – the credits, for example, appear eighteen minutes from the beginning – and we relive its relationship with Clementine in reverse order. Joel ends up taking her to the corners of his memory that he never shared with her, to hide her there from Lacuna’s technicians. At the same time, secondary but important plots emerge – nothing is left to chance in this apparent disorder – centered on the actions of these technicians: one of them, Patrick, falls in love with Clementine and uses Joel’s memories to try to win her over; the other two, Mary and Stan, cause an accident to Joel’s mind while having a party during the erasure process. These incidents will have a critical effect on the relationship between Joel and Clementine, returning their entire story to the starting box … Or maybe not.
Selective erasure of memories
As research on the brain progresses, might it be able to cause a selective eradication of memory? There are theories that indicate that, if this were ever possible, it would result from great help in treating psychological problems caused by traumatic experiences. But its unconscious use could lead to situations like the one posed in the film, where technology is used to renounce confrontation with one’s own failures and opt for the easier and more comfortable solution of erasure. It could be said that the conclusion of the film is its most conventional part, since it seems to bet that love will always be able to prevail. But even when you don’t, there are better ways to deal with disappointments.. The “eternal radiance of an immaculate mind” – which is the original title of the film, taken from a poem by the Englishman Alexander Pope – is the image of a mirage, as is the idea of a perfect romantic relationship.