->''"How happy is the blameless vestal's lot!''\\
''The world forgetting, by the world forgot.''\\
''[[LiteraryAllusionTitle Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!]]''\\
''Each prayer accepted, and each wish resigned."''
-->-- '''Alexander Pope''', "Eloisa to Abelard", as [[TitleDrop quoted]] by Mary Svevo.

''Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind'' is a 2004 science fiction drama/comedy, directed by Creator/MichelGondry, written by Creator/CharlieKaufman and starring Creator/JimCarrey in [[TomHanksSyndrome one of his more serious roles.]]

After his declining relationship ends in a serious argument, Joel Barish (Carrey) decides to make up with his now ex-girlfriend Clementine Kruczynski (Creator/KateWinslet). Finding she's changed her number, he desperately follows her to work and, when she treats him like an average customer, he soon learns she dealt with the heartbreak [[ATragedyOfImpulsiveness by undergoing a memory wiping procedure]]; since Clem has cut him out of her life altogether, Joel meets with the erasing company and opts to undergo the same procedure in an act of spite. What follows is a rather surreal journey through his memories: Joel re-experiences their entire relationship in [[InMediasRes a reversed order]] as erasing company ''Lacuna Inc.'' backtracks through his memories to wipe them away in [[TwoLinesNoWaiting an interwoven, current time b-plot]]. Of course, once Joel becomes consciously aware that he's reliving his fading memories, it doesn't take long for him to realize why he fell in love with Clementine in the first place, making him realize he'd rather not forget his connection...

The result is a wildly creative film that's both funny and poignant, to the point where it won an UsefulNotes/AcademyAward for Best Original Screenplay. The film does have some notable similarities to "Hearts Do Not in Eyes Shine," a short story by John Kessel published in 1983; the said story centers around a couple who had their memories partially erased and follows a similar story progression.

!!This movie provides examples of:

* AlternativeForeignThemeSong: A cover of Music/TheBangles' [[http://jpopsuki.tv/video/LISA---Eternal-Flame/95ab5e1399b66990b5839a716eadbc6a "Eternal Flame"]] sung by LISA was used as the theme song in the Japanese version.
* AmnesiacLover:
** Clementine with Patrick, who uses Joel's file to win her over. [[spoiler:Joel borders into this as well when the remnants of his memory drive him back to her.]]
** [[spoiler:Mary for Dr. Mierzwiak.]]
* AmnesiacResonance: The reason why Joel and Clem meet again at Montauk. [[AmnesiaLoop And again.. and again.]]
* AmnesiaLoop: Invoked. People keep getting into the same bad relationships over and over, then have their memories wiped off.
* AnachronicOrder: The film opens with Joel and Clementine meeting [[spoiler:after having the procedure performed,]] though this isn't immediately apparent. A lot of the memories revisited during the erasure procedure are visited out of order, particularly when Joel starts fighting back in response; as a linear series of events, the good in Joel and Clementine's relationship is slowly extinguished and forgotten (providing the original motivation for the procedures in the first place).
* AndIMustScream: It's not that the doctor ''won't'' stop... it's just that Joel ''can't tell him to''. This especially applies when Joel "wills" himself conscious long enough to look at the assistants with desperation in his eyes (but cannot speak) as they drug him back to sleep.
* ArcWords:
** [[spoiler:"Meet me in Montauk".]]
** Joel's choice adjective is "nice." This crops up as a common conversation piece, as a plot point (where [[spoiler:Patrick's accidental use freaks out Clementine as it makes her vaguely remember what was erased]]), and it even appears as a RunningGag:
-->'''Joel''': I had a really nice time last night.\\
'''Clem''': (grins) ''Nice?''\\
'''Joel''': (laughing) I had the best ''fucking'' night of my entire ''fucking'' life last night.\\
'''Clem''': That's better!
* AuthorAppeal: If Creator/CharlieKaufman's [[Film/BeingJohnMalkovich previous movie]] is any indication, he has a personal fondness for the story of Abelard and Heloise. As seen in the page quote, Alexander Pope's poem about them ("Eloisa to Abelard") is the basis of this film's title.
* BetaCouple: Mary and Dr. Mierzwiak. Also Rob and Carrie who are Joel's best friends and showcase similar relationship issues Joel has with Clementine.
* BettyAndVeronica: Though we never meet Naomi, Joel's live-in girlfriend when he first meets Clementine, through his descriptions of her we can infer she was a "nice" GirlNextDoor, in contrast to Clementine's ManicPixieDreamGirl (though she herself lampshades and subverts this about herself). Joel chooses Clementine, the "Veronica", over Naomi's "Betty".
* BittersweetEnding: [[spoiler:Joel and Clem discover they wiped one another from their memories and, listening to their pre-wipe tapes, learn they ended up hating everything about each other. Despite this, and the fact that their relationship will probably end up in same, they decide to start over and try again.]]
** According to WordOfGod , one idea for the course of their relationship was they would get together, break up, wipe their memories, and start over multiple times.
* TheBlank: Faces in partially-erased memories.
* ABloodyMess: Joel uses a ketchup packet to "slit" his throat.
* BrainBleach: DeconstructedTrope through Lacuna Inc's memory wipe procedure: the film thoroughly explores the ramifications of the trope and whether one would even want to carry it out if it was available.
* BreakTheCutie: Mary is initially sweet, cheerful and lively, but becomes very depressed when she learns that [[spoiler:she'd already had a relationship with Howard and had the memory erased at his insistence.]]
* BreakUpMakeUpScenario: Even [[Series/{{Friends}} Ross and Rachel]] didn't go through as many as Joel and Clem. Many of their memories show fights and reconciliations, till the end of the movie. [[spoiler:One interpretation of the film, made explicit in an early draft of the screenplay, is that the two of them spend their ''entire lives'' getting together, breaking up, erasing each other and then getting back together again.]]
* CaughtWithYourPantsDown: One of Joel's humiliating memories is his mother catching him masturbating to crude, hand-drawn porn as a teen.
* DeadPersonImpersonation: A variant -- [[spoiler:Patrick]] takes advantage of his job at Lacuna, Inc. to steal romantic lines and gifts from the materials that patients turn in when they erase someone from their memory, thus impersonating someone who is forgotten but not dead. (Interestingly, the strangeness of his target's emotional reactions to a few of these stolen moves suggest [[spoiler:Clementine resisted the erasure of Joel, too]].)
* DeadSparks: We first meet Joel and Clem when they are at the Dead Sparks stage of the relationship. The rest of the movie is about how they ignited those sparks in the first place and ends with the hope that they could be reignited.
-->'''Joel''': "Are we like those poor couples you feel sorry for in restaurants? Are we the dining dead?"
* {{Deconstruction}}: The film deconstructs the romantic comedy genre simply by showing the events of the weeks and months after Joel and Clementine fall in love. Even more than that, the AnachronicOrder we see things in is the ''normal'' order of a RomanticComedy -- first fighting, then falling in love -- when really these happened in ''reverse'' order as the two fell out of love.
** Also functions as a DeconReconSwitch; it's during the deconstruction of their relationship that we see why they fell for each other in the first place... and then they do so again by the end of the film.
* DoubleTake: [[spoiler:Clementine]] makes one just after Patrick gives her a gift stolen from [[spoiler:the items Joel turned in]]. See DeadPersonImpersonation above.
* DudeShesLikeInAComa: Stan says this almost verbatim to Patrick after he tells him he stole [[spoiler:a pair of Clem's panties]]. There's an awkward silence before they both break out laughing.
* DyeHard: Clementine is an in-universe, fictional example[[note]]Kate Winslet was wearing wigs for her role, though[[/note]]. See ExpositoryHairstyleChange, below.
* ExpositoryHairstyleChange: Clementine's hair frequently changes throughout. [[spoiler:As it turns out, the color [[ColourCodedForYourConvenience helps indicate her relationship with Joel]]: it's green early in their relationship (and the first time they meet), red in the first part of their relationship when they were happy, orange when her relationship with Joel was falling apart, and blue after her memory is wiped of Joel (and when they meet a second time).]]
* FondMemoriesThatCouldHaveBeen: [[spoiler:A unique variation; when the wiping goes further back into Joel and Clem's relationship, Joel realizes how much he loved her and how happy they used to be. Since he's losing her forever by erasing his memories of her, he then tries to combat it.]]
-->'''Joel''': [[spoiler:Mierzwiak, please let me keep this memory. ''Just this one.'']]
* FreezeFrameBonus:
** Upon closer inspection, a lot can be inferred about Joel's relationship with Clementine from the objects he throws out to erase her.
** A montage towards the end has random single frames inserted that show happy moments between Joel and Clementine.
* GenreMashup: A science fiction romantic comedy-drama, most of which takes place inside the main character's head.
* TheGhost: Naomi is talked about but never seen on-screen. Joel breaks up with her for Clem and later states that this was a mistake. Actually, there was a sub-plot involving Joel having a one-night stand with his Naomi (played by Ellen Pompeo), but [[DeletedRole it was deleted from the final cut of the film]].
* GirlsHaveCooties: When Joel brings the memory of Clementine into his memory of being babysat as a toddler, he also takes on the mindset of a toddler. Consequently, when Clem [[PantyShot flashes her underwear]] at Joel, he reacts with childish disgust.
* HardDrinkingPartyGirl: Clementine and Mary often get "amiably drunk" (the latter even smokes pot). Clem and Joel's breakup is prompted by her driving home from a party drunk and damaging Joel's car.
* HilarityEnsues: What happens when a man hides his girlfriend in his childhood memories.
--> '''Clementine/Joel's childhood nanny:''' [[LampshadeHanging Okay, this is REALLY twisted.]]
* IfYouCanReadThis: Upon closer inspection, a love note Clementine wrote to Joel reveals that they had sex on the ice after the scene where they lie down on the frozen Charles.
* InformedAttribute: At the end of the film, when the audience hears the tape of Joel explaining why he wants to erase Clementine, he lists off several of her perceived flaws (among others, her poor vocabulary, her lack of education and how she thinks she can only get people to like her by having sex with them or dangling the possibility in front of them), none of which Clementine is ever seen possessing. That being said, Clementine gets particularly defensive about the last point and asserts that it isn't the case, suggesting that Joel may be something of an UnreliableNarrator.
** And when we hear Clementine's tape, the first thing she says about him is that he's "boring." By that point in the movie we've seen a number of scenes of the two of them having fun together. By the time each makes their tape, they're in the breakup phase, so they're probably exaggerating traits that may not have always bothered them or projecting their own insecurities on the other.
* InMediasRes: When Joel is having the procedure, the movie jumps between key parts of his relationship with Clementine (as opposed to chronological order). [[spoiler:Also used as a twist in that the movie opening, where Clem and Joel meet on a train, is actually for the second time ''after'' they've had each other wiped.]]
* IronicEcho: "I'll be sure to remember that." *memory erased*
* ItMakesSenseInContext: As with many Creator/MichelGondry films, the film features a lot of [[MindScrew bizarre, surreal imagery]], but in this case it generally makes sense.
* JustTrainWrong: The big UsefulNotes/LongIslandRailRoad logos on the train cars don't hide the red stripes that are the distinctive livery of Metro-North Railroad's New Haven Line, which serves Connecticut and southern Westchester County.
** And, Joel gets on the train at the New Rochelle station, not in Brooklyn.
* KaleidoscopeHair: Clementine frequently re-dyes her hair.
* LaserGuidedAmnesia: Well, computer guided really...
* LiteraryAllusionTitle: The page quote, from Alexander Pope's "Eloisa to Abelard".
* LostLoveMontage: Plot justified, with the memory-erasing procedure causing Joel to relive his memories of Clementine and realize why he fell in love with her in the first place. As part of the {{Deconstruction}}, some downright bitter memories appear as well.
* LoveMakesYouDumb: One of the explanations why Joel and Clem fall for each other again and again, though knowing that their relation was bound to fail.
* ManicPixieDreamGirl: Subverted and thoroughly deconstructed with Clementine. As a DeconstructedCharacterArchetype she shows what happens once the novelty of the ManicPixieDreamGirl wears off and the meaning of the term becomes apparent. It also subverts a common element of the trope, in that it's usually inexplicable that the free-spirited girl would be so interested in the quiet, reserved guy. At the beginning of the movie it seems like Clementine is fascinated by Joel for no reason, [[spoiler:but it's actually that her subconscious is influencing her with the forgotten remnants of her feelings for him when they were together. When we see their real first meeting, she is interested in him initially but quickly gets bored, forcing him to work to make a relationship happen]].
--> "Too many guys think I'm a concept, or I complete them, or I'm gonna make them alive. But I'm just a fucked-up girl who's lookin' for my own peace of mind; don't assign me yours."
* MaybeEverAfter: The ending.
* MayDecemberRomance: [[spoiler: Mary and Dr. Mierzwiak were having an affair before Mary was pressured into having him erased from her memory.]]
* MeaningfulName:
** Clementine -- which means [[IronicName "merciful."]] [[spoiler:"Oh my darlin' Clementine... You are lost and gone forever..."]] The fruit may have been part of what led them to make her dye her hair orange, and also informed Joel's nickname for her.
** "Lacuna" is a gap, blank, or missing piece; in Italian, it also refers to a memory lapse.
* MemoryWipingCrew: Lacuna Inc are a non-MIB version, removing memories of bad relationships. They would even set up in the client's home so they would wake up without any idea that something had happened.
* MentalStory: Roughly half of the film takes place inside Joel's head while his memory is being erased.
* MindScrew: The memory erasing procedure is this both for the characters and for the audience.
* ModestyBedsheet
* MohsScaleOfScienceFictionHardness: Although there is little explanation given for how the memory-erasure device works, [[http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/brave_new_world/2004/03/the_science_of_eternal_sunshine.html the story is remarkably faithful to the modern understanding of the neuroscience of memory in many of the details]] -- putting it [[Mohs/SpeculativeScience among the hardest class of SF stories.]]
* MsFanservice: Kate Winslet and Kirsten Dunst get many nice underwear shots.
* NeverHeardThatOneBefore: Almost everyone Clementine meets sings "Oh My Darlin', Clementine" at her (often alluding to ''WesternAnimation/TheHuckleberryHoundShow'') -- a joke that is {{inverted|Trope}} at the beginning, when Clementine learns to her discomfiture that Joel doesn't know the show or the song even when ''she'' sings it to ''him''. We later learn that [[spoiler:he had immediately associated Clementine with the song and with Huckleberry Hound at their (erased) first meeting, when he sang it at her right after she said not to joke about her name]].
* NiceGuy: Joel, albeit a little withdrawn both emotionally and romantically.
* NoAntagonist: Joels's challenge is how he can make the memory wiping process stop.
* ObliviousGuiltSlinging: Early on, when Joel returns to his apartment to get Clementine erased from his mind, his neighbor congratulates him for having such a cool girl friend.
* OnceMoreWithClarity: The scenes of Joel meeting Clementine on Montauk at the beginning are repeated later, at which point it's clear that they're [[spoiler:meeting for the second time, but neither one is aware of it.]] Even the sound of a van driving away outside as Joel wakes up turns out to be [[spoiler:the Lacuna, Inc. van]].
* OppositesAttract: Played with, and perhaps deconstructed. The conflict between Clem's open and outgoing personality and Joel's comparatively withdrawn and introverted personality causes friction in their relationship and is one factor which leads to their breakup - he's boring, she's unpredictable and dangerously impulsive.
* PermaStubble: Joel sports a non-manly variation thereof.
* PrecisionFStrike:
-->'''Joel:''' I had a really nice time last night.
-->'''Clementine:''' ''Nice''?
-->'''Joel:''' I had the best fucking time of my entire fucking life last night!
-->'''Clementine:''' Thaaat's better!
* ProlongedPrologue: The opening credits appear 18 minutes into the film, at the end of the first reel.
* QuickNip: At the Montauk restaurant Joel watches Clem spiking her coffee with spirit from a flask she brought with.
* RedOniBlueOni: Clementine and Joel respectively.
* RelationshipReboot: Joel and Clem literally wipe the slate clean... if by "slate" you mean "the memories of their romance". [[spoiler: Mary turns out to have tried this with Dr. Mierzwiak as well.]]
* TheReveal:
** Mary [[spoiler:already had an affair with Dr. Mierzwiak before the film started, then opted to have her memory wiped of the ordeal.]] The fact that the film sets this up to happen again is in keeping with the theme that YouCantFightFate where love is concerned. (Or at the very least that you can't learn from something you don't remember.)
** Not to mention that [[spoiler: Joel and Clementine's "initial" meeting in Montauk is in fact the second time they've met.]] Probably qualifies as a FirstEpisodeSpoiler.
* RippedFromThePhoneBook: Downplayed. In the last scene when Clem tracks down Joel at his apartment, we see her in the car holding a ripped out telephone page with Joel's address marked up.
* ScrewDestiny: We learn when we finish seeing the memory erasure that [[spoiler:Joel managed to implant the suggestion to go back to Montauk]] despite the memory rewrite -- and [[spoiler:Clementine's appearance on the same train]] suggests that [[spoiler:she may have done the same]].
** Clementine also suggests that Joel invoke this trope when leaving the beach house by offering that he should stay. Joel however tells her that he can't go back because the memory of the house had already been erased.
* SecondPlaceIsForLosers: A FunnyBackgroundEvent in the Lacuna offices has a client bringing with him a silver bowling trophy - evidently he found the memory of only coming in second in a bowling competition, rather than winning, too painful to bear.
* SequencingDeception: The first scene, where Joel goes out to Montauk and meets Clementine, [[spoiler:actually takes place ''after'' most of the events in the rest of the film, right after Joel's memories are completely erased]].
* ShoutOut:
** The film's title is a quote from Alexander Pope's "Eloisa to Abelard", a passage from which Mary recites to Howard.
** Mary also quotes Creator/FriedrichNietzsche at one point.
* SkywardScream: When Joel [[spoiler:starts reliving happy memories, and tries to call off the wipe.]]
* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism: The movie itself is ambiguous (or at least balanced) on this, but it does seem to be fairly effective at revealing where ''viewers'' are on the scale.
* SlipIntoSomethingMoreComfortable: At the beach house Clem mentions "I'm gonna go find the bedroom and slip into something more ... Ruth."
* SmallRoleBigImpact: Hollis, Howard's wife, gets only two scenes, but drops the WhamLine specified below.
* SnowMeansLove: The ending when Joel and Clementine are running on the beach and it starts to snow. Also the frozen lake scene.
* StalkerWithACrush: Discussed. Clem asks Joel if he is a stalker when he offers her a lift home from the metro. He replies that it was her coming on to him in the first place which she calls "[[PlausibleDeniability the oldest trick in the stalker book]]".
* ThirdPersonFlashback: Possible aversion as we see the movie as a third person memory of the protagonist's dreams. In real life he has no memory of his romantic rival's face because he didn't see it, so even though we see it in third person, no matter how he moves the guy he's always TheBlank.
* TitleDrop: The page quote.
* TomatoInTheMirror: [[spoiler:Mary had a relationship with Dr. Mierzwiak. When his wife learned about his affair, Mierzwiak pushed Mary into getting him wiped from her memory.]]
* ATragedyOfImpulsiveness: Even [[LampshadeHanging lampshaded]] when Joel becomes self-aware of the erasure:
-->'''Joel''': I don't know. ''You'' erased ''me.'' That's why I'm here and doing this.\\
'''Clementine''': Sorry.\\
'''Joel''': ''You.''\\
'''Clementine''': You know me. I'm impulsive.\\
'''Joel''': ({{beat}}) [[AwLookTheyReallyDoLoveEachOther That's what I love about you.]]
* TrailersAlwaysSpoil: {{Averted|Trope}} in that a great deal of the promotional material involved [[ThisIsReality pseudo-commercials for Dr. Mierzwiak's memory wipe clinic]]. Played straight, however, in that the entire premise involves the spoiler that Joel goes through with getting Clementine erased.
* UnreliableNarrator: Joel. A great portion of the film is told through Joel's memories of events he experienced with Clementine, but the unreliability of those memories is shown on at least two occasions.
** When Joel first arrives home the night of the erasure, his neighbor chats with him about Valentine's Day. This is then the first substantial memory about Clementine that gets erased. But while this event took place just a short while (maybe an hour at most) before the erasure, it is shown that Joel is already incorrectly remembering what his neighbor said to him.
** Taking the imperfection of human memory alongside whether Joel considered a given memory as enjoyable or upsetting, the audience ought to wonder if what they're viewing is what ''actually'' happened, or if Joel's memories are distorted, exaggerated, or embellished because of the passing of time and because of his emotional state at the time of the event. On several occasions, for example, Clementine often instigates arguments and acts like a bitch towards Joel; however, while she's the HotBlooded of the two, there's probably major bias since it's from Joel's perspective.
* UptightLovesWild: The film quite thoroughly deconstructs this. A relationship like this doesn't always work and after the falling-in-love part, it causes more pain than joy; so much so that both parties opt to have their memories removed of each other.
* VanInBlack: Joel is suspicious of the van following him in front of his apartment. Little does he know that it belongs to Lacuna's MemoryWipingCrew.
* VorpalPillow: Played for laughs. The two main characters take turns pretending to smother each other, probably as foreplay. Clem calls Joel out for coming out of character too soon.
* WhamLine:
-->'''Hollis:''' Don't be a monster, Howard. Tell the poor girl. You can have him. [[spoiler: You did.]]
* WhereWereYouLastNight: The last time Joel saw Clementine before she had him erased was when she stumbled in the door at 3 A.M. after drunkenly scraping his car against a fire hydrant. The fight coming from Joel's reaction was Clementine's impetus to the procedure.
* WomenAreWiser: Inverted: as Clementine's ManicPixieDreamGirl status is deconstructed, Joel goes from being simply ComicallySerious to being the closer-to-Earth counter to Clementine's bare recklessness.
* WordSaladTitle: It's actually a LiteraryAllusionTitle, but without seeing it or knowing the source material, it sounds like randomly selected buzzwords.
* YouCanRunButYouCantHide: Verbatim. [[spoiler: Stan]] says this the second time Joel tries to get away to save [[spoiler:his memory of Clementine]], implying that he wouldn't have stopped the procedure even if he had realized that [[spoiler: Joel changed his mind]].
* YouCantFightFate:
** Clementine and Joel show signs that they would have gotten back together [[spoiler:even hadn't Mary opted to break the rules and mail them back all of the materials required for the procedure. In fact, Mary returning the tapes to them was what interrupted their getting back together again right after the memory wipe]].
** [[spoiler:Mary ends up falling for Dr. Mierzwiak again despite getting a memory wipe to remove even any memory of why she'd fall for him in the first place. Mary is alarmed by this as Dr. Mierzwiak is a married man, and probably would have renewed the affair if his wife hadn't caught them kissing in Joel's house. Part of Mary's alarm (and fury) later may come from the fact that while she had the affair wiped from her memory, Dr. Mierzwiak quite clearly ''didn't'' -- he wouldn't be able to tell her that they had a "history", otherwise. And he knew all the things that had made her fall in love with him the first time... and he may even have been doing the same thing as Patrick, playing on the forgotten memories to spark a relationship.]]
* YourCheatingHeart: Joel and Clementine's relationship starts off this way - Joel has a live-in girlfriend named Naomi when meets Clementine and is all but ready to cheat with her from their first moment. Some unknown time afterward, Clementine outright tells him she won't be his other woman and that he has to break up with his girlfriend in order to be with her.
** [[spoiler: Dr. Howard and Mary had an affair in the past, which Mary had erased from her memories. It comes back to bite everyone in a huge way in the climax of the film.]]