Thursday, 30 October 2014

Character Analysis: Joel Barish

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Joel Barish

As an introverted man, Joel craves social interaction whilst fighting with his impulse to ignore people. With a passion for the arts, Joel shows his creativity through painting and collecting things which give him a sense of nostalgia. He maintains a close connection with belongings that remind him of better times, though ultimately Joel wants to find happiness with another person.


Joel's introversion forces him to express the deep narrative of his mind through diary entries, which reflect his need to break out of isolation. The only remaining friends he has are a couple, which judging by his infrequent mentions of a former lover, Naomi, shows that Joel requires monogamy and stability in his life.


Joel's monotone internal dialogue suggests that his life is not progressing in a healthy direction. He is stuck in an endless work cycle, commuting and living alone with only himself for comfort. Joel is a weak and nihilistic person whose own self-deprecating comments show a lack of enthusiasm and meaning in life. He craves comfort and security in a relationship, though his introversion stops him from expressing his emotions and therefore creates a wall between himself and others.


When the bubbly and extroverted Clementine enters his life, we see Joel open up and outwardly express himself to impress her. Joel's confidence is boosted by Clementine's love for life and impulsivity as their relationship gains momentum.


Eventually Joel becomes paranoid towards Clementine's impulsivity and the relationship tumbles into a domestically hostile back-and-forth. They begin to pick at the flaws in their relationship and argue over their humdrum daily routines. The foundations of trust and expression that once fuelled the relationship expire, leading them both to erase one another but ultimately finding each other again.

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