Whoa? Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was a remake? Well, not really but this was obviously a huge inspiration. This reminded of the two other Resnais films I’ve watched, Hiroshima Mon Amour and Last Year in Marienbad in the sense that it deals with a lot of the same themes – time, memory, loss, regret. For the same reason, probably, it also reminded me a lot of La Jetee.
The premise itself is rather simple and conventional – man signs up for a time-travel experiment, the machine malfunctions (I think) and he ends up revisiting several moments from his past. What is not so conventional is how enigmatic, intimate and romantic it turns out to be. Plus, its visually just so inventive and memorable. The time-machine doesn’t look anything like the time-machines I’ve seen in sci-fi movies that deal with this type of stuff. The fragmented nature of the narrative means that along with Claude, the protagonist, we too experience an entire gamut of emotions from the joy of just being in love to deep sadness and doubt. While the movie requires us to pay attention given the way the story is told, it never feels gimmicky or confusing. The uncertainty that we feel about what is going on is mirrored in Claude’s own uncertainty regarding some his actions from the past.
I was really moved by the film and felt really wistful when it was over. I love it when films can do that. Incidentally, despite the tragic nature of the tale, I really felt that the film had moments of great playfulness and whimsy that I hadn’t really noticed with either of the Resnais films I’ve watched before. Highly recommended.