seems like “some sort of teaser ad.” Then Joel thinks that Clementine is somehow screwing with him and makes her get out. Eventually, however, they come to realize that the other go round they wished for is actually in progress. As Clementine joins Joel in his apartment to talk over what this implies, his tape is playing: “The only way Clem thinks she can get people to like her is to fuck ’em . . . or at least dangle the possibility of being fucked in front of ’em.” Again, her reaction is to leave: “I’m a little confused. I don’t really think I can be here.” After erasure, we are reminded, whatever explains her behavior is still intact, doing the same fast work of cutting off painful contact. Though we seem to be in for a real break-up this time, like the one between Mary and Howard, we also know the film is unlikely to let that happen. And, sure enough, after a few tense moments, there is a change in the pattern. Joel follows her into the corridor. “I want you to wait for a while,” he says, his face all wounded puppy. By finding what it takes to keep Clementine in contact with him for those few extra seconds, he has enabled that look to work its anxiety-quieting magic: CLEMENTINE : I’m not a concept, Joel, I’m just a fucked-up girl who’s looking for my own peace of mind. I’m not perfect. TWO BLUE RUINS 21
JOEL : I can’t see anything that I don’t like about you. Right now I can’t. CLEMENTINE : But you will. But you will, you know. You know you will think of things, and I’ll get bored with you and feel trapped because that’s what happens with me. JOEL : Okay. CLEMENTINE : Okay. Okay. JOEL : Okay. ( They begin to laugh .) As we cut to a scene of the two lovers playing on snowy Montauk beach, we hear Beck singing “Change your heart . . .”. It is a foretaste of the sunny-snowy, good-bad tomorrows that changed hearts make possible. In the case of Clementine, what caused the change is, in a way, nothing. She already has the sort of heart that Joel, through suffering, must acquire. Capable of intimate disclosure, eager to have children, able to understand that lovers must learn to take the bad with the good, she is already an adult, already aware of what she’s like. “You know me,” she says to explain why she hired Lacuna, “I’m impulsive.” She also knows the illusions men have about her and warns Joel about them when he asks her out for the first time: “Look man, I’m telling you right off the bat, I’m high maintenance . . . 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 looking for my own peace of mind. Don’t assign me yours.” When she repeats part of this warning in the closing scene, we see how old the wisdom is. Nonetheless, as Joel admits to her in his imaginary recapitu- lation of the scene, it was a warning he didn’t take: “I still thought you were going to save my life, even after that.” The phrases “make them alive” and “save my life” are potent ones, which are made all the more so by the visual meaning the film assigns
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- Fall '18
- Kate Winslet, Joel, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Clementine, Montauk, New York, Clementine Kruczynski