Headscratchers: Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
Why did Clementine go to Montauk? It was essential to the plot for her to go there on Valentine's Day, so that she and Joel could meet again on the train coming back. But what caused her to go there in the first place? We know that Joel had an urge to go there because he maintained a glimmer of what happened during his procedure, when Clementine told him to meet her in Montauk just before she was sucked out of his brain. But the version of Clementine who told him to do that was just a figment of his imagination; it wasn't part of a real conversation they had, was it? Are we supposed to believe that when she had her own memory erased, she gave herself that same idea, and half-remembered it like Joel did?
Yes. Note that she urgently wanted to go to Montauk with Patrick when he was playing himself into Clem's voided memories of Joel. Since it's where the two met, it would be the strongest and last memories visited for both of them, leading to a similar mental chain of events for both.
Interesting...so Clementine tried to hold onto her memories of Joel when they were being erased, just like he tried to hold onto his memories of her. I'd always suspected that, but didn't realize there was real evidence for it.
Joel's ex-girlfriend. Her existence really, REALLY, bugs me, more than I feel it should. It bugs me to the point that it ruins the movie a little bit. We are given no evidence that their relationship is in any way broken. We don't learn anything that would make her undesirable. In fact, we learn evidence to the contrary (that Joel really does like her) considering that when he gets his memory wiped he thinks about getting back with her the very next day. Then, to make things worse, we learn they were ENGAGED. So Joel apparently left a perfectly fine girl on the altar because he happened to meet Clementine? Even if he felt there was something lacking in his relationship, it is still a huge dick move to just run around with a girl you just met at the expense of your (presumably) longtime girlfriend. ALSO, it completely undermines the fact that Joel's main flaw in Clementine's eyes (and presumably what Gondry wants us to believe) is his hopeless introversion and the fact that he would clearly be a nothing without Clementine. This isn't so emotionally hard-hitting when it is revealed Joel was in a relationship beforehand good enough to lead to them living together and would probably do just fine without Clem. I feel I have to be missing something here. This unseen character ruins Joel's entire character for me. Someone, please, tell me what I missed!
Well, in one of the opening internal monologues of Joel when he first mentions/thinks about Naomi, he sounded a little half- hearted, as in 'Maybe I should get back together with Naomi. She was nice. She loved me...' implying that he wasn't really in love with her. I could even go on to speculate that she was introverted and stable like Joel, thus making their relationship somewhat more dull. Who knows? People get engaged for many reasons besides love, such as obligation, or the feeling that they aren't going to find anyone better and should just 'settle'. Clearly, what he had with Naomi wasn't true love. It's probably not fair, but more of a 'life isn't fair' kind of way, so I don't think it particularly reflects badly on Joel's character so much as tells the audience something about his previous relationship.
I think this makes the most sense, and there's more evidence for it. In the car after their (real) first meeting, Carrie smiles as she approvingly asks "Who were you talking to?" Either Carrie doesn't like Naomi, or she knows Joel would be better off with someone new.
The way Joel speaks of Naomi, I figured they'd reached the "dining dead" phase. He went along with the standard progression (date, propose, shack up, marriage, kids), because the familiarity of dating Naomi was better than the uncertainty of single life. The introvert mindset can be rather self-defeating: "I'm not rich, I'm not handsome, I'm not that interesting, who would want me? If I let go of what I have, will I ever find somebody else?" Then along comes Clementine, and he realizes that maybe taking a chance could be worthwhile.
When Lacuna has wiped a memory, they send notes to the friends and family of the person who got his memory wiped telling them not to bring up the subject he wiped his memories of. Are we supposed to believe that no friend/family member ever decided to rebel against that and try to remind him of the wiped memory?
If one of my friends or family members went to the extreme lengths of having a person or event wiped out of their mind entirely, I like to think I'd respect their wishes enough not to be a dick and bring it up.
Lacuna is only able to map the memories with an "emotional core". Does that mean that memories the person if fairly indifferent about remain? Obviously those don't mean much to the person in question; but he could retrieve them?
I think he operates under the assumption that no one would get this procedure if they didn't have a strong emotional attachment to the memories they wanted to get erased. But it really depends on how good he is at his job.