Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Movie Time: 108 min

1. Inciting Incident

*Post-procedure

As Joel drives home, he passes Clementine, a woman he met earlier that day in Nantucket, walking home in the cold. Overcoming his timid self, he stops and asks if she needs a ride. When they get to her place, Clementine asks Joel if he would like to come up to her apartment for a drink. He hesitates for a second, but takes a leap of faith by joining her. (00:09:29)

His timid nature is foreshadowed earlier when Joel states, “Why do I fall in love with every woman I see who shows me the least bit of attention?” (00:04:11)

2. Lock In (End of Act One)

*Pre-procedure

Upon learning that Clementine erased Joel from her memory, he decides he wants the procedure done as well. He forces his way into getting an appointment at Lucana, a memory erasing facility, during the busiest time of year, around Valentines Day.

At his apartment, on the night of his procedure, he goes all in when he takes the medication he was given to fall asleep.

He picks up a small vial from his night table, opens it, dumps a rough pink pill into the palm of his hand, studies it. He swallows the pill quickly. (00:20:30)

3. First Culmination (Midpoint)

*During procedure

Already under heavy sedation, Joel realizes that his relationship with Clementine was not all bad. In fact, he had many great memories with her, memories that he would now like to keep. This realization leads to Joel wanting the memory erasing procedure stopped when he says, “Can you hear me? I want to call it off!” (00:54:20)

4. Main Culmination (End of Act Two)

*During procedure

Still under sedation, as Joel has come to realize he no longer wants to continue with the procedure, he tries to hide in his other memories, in an attempt to keep his memories of Clementine alive. His efforts fall short, as Dr. Mierzwiak is able to locate Joel hiding away in these new memory locations.

Joel finally gives in. He is defeated. All he wants now is to enjoy what little time/memory he has left of Clementine.

Clementine: This is it Joel. It’s going to be gone soon.

Joel: I know.

Clementine: What do we do?

Joel: Enjoy it. (01:26:17)

In the real world, Mary, an assistant at Lucana, learns that she had an affair with Dr Mierzwiak and had her memory of the affair erased. Affected by this revelation, she plans to make everything right.

5. Third Act Twist

*Post-procedure

Joel picks up Clementine from her apartment. She is carrying an overnight bag along with her mail. Among her mail is a small padded manila envelope from Lucana. Mary had sent it out to all the patients who had undergone the memory erasing procedure. In the envelope are the personal notes, files, and a tape, belonging to the patient.

Clementine plays the tape in Joel’s car. Her voice is heard saying, Joel is “a giant asshole.” His response is “Why did you make this tape?” (01:37:30)

*This non-linear screenplay can help with the understood of the timeline of the events of the memory erasing procedure.