Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
This is one of my favorite films ever – cinematic art at its finest.
This particular scene begins by establishing the setting – the main character’s (Joel) friends’ living room. As he relates to them a story concerning his recent encounter with an ex-lover, Clementine, cross-cutting is used to transition back and forth between scenes of Joel’s unpleasant experience and the scene at present, all tied together through his consistent voice-over.
The camerawork is also shaky – but subtly and artfully – even around 00:30 when the action of the frame is completely oriented around him, serving to emphasize the uneasiness and restlessness he feels as well as the tension within the scene.
Beginning around 00:47, as Joel’s character suddenly becomes overcome with the realization that Clementine has found a new lover, his confusion is mirrored through an almost tangible curtain that draws itself between Joel and his surroundings. The movement of the camera grows slightly more hectic, making the background seem blurrier, and the white noise of the background (people talking, moving around, etc.) becomes increasingly indiscernible yet more pronounced in terms of volume. Joel’s breathing grows heavy as his disconnect with his surroundings grows – and here, the most profound piece of editing takes place as Joel simultaneously walks out of the bookstore and into his friends’ living room. While this occurs, the lighting of the bookstore changes, each level of the ceiling lights turning off following the movement of Joel out of the room: in my opinion, one of the most creative transitions I’ve ever seen in a film. This transcends the typical cross-cutting method, and the sudden shift between past and present also illuminates the dream-like quality of the film, distorting and warping the audience’s sense of time.
The scene as a whole maintains a certain stream of consciousness – emphasizing the intertwined threads of Joel’s reality and his confusion with it, punctured with images of the past: a dynamic that is used throughout the entirety of the film, giving it an undeniably dream-like vibe. The experimentation with the editing of color and lighting also magnifies this almost surrealistic essence of the film. Clementine’s vivid hair – which changes throughout the film – not only adds to the overall visual effect of the film but reflects the state of the relationship between Joel and Clementine. In this scene, her hair is blue, representing the opposite of passion and life.