Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Genre Character of the Week: Joel Barish

One of my favourite things about genre films and books is that sometimes you can find an emotional story as powerful as any drama, but also able to show you the "what if?" quality that genre works thrive in. Case in point, the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, focuses on the concept of targeted amnesia - wherein a company can remove your memories of a specific event or person, basically allowing you to erase your mistakes. The concept is very SF, but the emotional heart of the story comes from its main character, Joel Barish.

The thing about Joel is that he, like most of us at one time or another, has just found out that his ex-girlfriend has moved on (She has underwent the procedure to erase all of her memories of him), and in an impulsive moment, he decides to undergo the same procedure himself. The problem is, however, once the procedure begins, Joel begins to realize that he doesn't want his ex-girlfriend removed completely, that his relationship with her is a part of his life, and now he is losing it.

The majority of the story follows Joel in his own mind as he attempts to take his memories of his girlfriend and hide them within other memories so that he won't lose all of them. The story is at turns heartbreaking and funny, and a lot of that comes down to the character of Joel (as portrayed by Jim Carrey), with his earnest desire to save this part of himself that he is just now realizing is so very important.

I think the thing I admire most about Joel (pictured right), is how easy it is to relate to him. He is emotionally shut down after a recent break-up and it is only during the procedure (which happens in his apartment, while he is sleeping) that he realizes how important every experience of his life is - a valuable lesson for anyone.

If you haven't seen the film yet (it came out in 2004) I definitely recommend it, as it is one of those few SF films that can be recommended to people who hate the genre.

No comments:

Post a Comment