35. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
directed by Michel Gondry
Charlie Kaufman may be the most imaginative writer working today. When you hear the plots of his films, you think, that sounds amazing, but how do you write that? This film, which stars Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet, is a romantic comedy all about breakups. The central conceit is this: When Clementine and Joel break up, she has a surgery to completely erase him from her mind. This metaphor is keenly painful and accurate to anyone who’s gone through a bad breakup, because that’s what it feels like. Joel finds out about it and decides to do the same thing. The film takes us inside his mind, as Joel, completely unconsciously, decides he doesn’t want to erase her. The film becomes a chase through his mind, forward and backward in time, through his entire mind as he tries to hide memories of her in any spare place he can find. The result is an amazingly moving, funny, sweet collage of their relationship—not that it was perfect, or even good, just that it’s worth remembering. If he can.