Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is one of the most inventive romantic drama movies of recent memory, and effortlessly blends realistic relationship problems with surreal and impossible imagery. The movie’s creative exploration of the main character’s mind, not only gives the audience a better understanding of the central romance but the man himself.
In addition to this, its non-linear structure makes it one of the most memorable movies about relationships. These elements are what defined the movie and made it work so well. If you’re a fan, here are 15 similar movies to check out.
Updated on November 28th, 2020 by Mark Birrell: Director Michel Gondry’s unique visual and comedic styles blended so perfectly with the performances of the incredible ensemble cast, as well as the thoughtful work of screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, that it’s no wonder why this movie has such a loving fanbase. As it continues to gather admirers in its journey through certifiable cult status, so too has our last gathered together an extra 5 movies to watch if you like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
15 Being John Malkovich (1999)
Charlie Kaufman caught the attention of the movie world for the first time with his first produced screenplay for this thrilling, weird, and dark comedy about a struggling puppeteer who discovers a portal that leads into the mind of actor John Malkovich.
Spike Jonze proved to be the perfect director to debut Kaufman’s distinctly surreal ideas to audiences, producing a movie full of unique humor and fearless performances from well-known actors.
14 Ruby Sparks (2012)
Zoe Kazan wrote the screenplay and starred as the title character in this offbeat deconstruction of romantic comedy movies from directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris.
The plot follows a young writer, played by Paul Dano, whose latest creation suddenly appears in the flesh to become his perfect lover, only for his ability to control the bizarre situation to gradually erode.
13 Her (2013)
Director Spike Jonze tackled modern relationships from a sci-fi perspective with his own bitterly sweet screenplay about a lonely man who falls in love with the AI program that lives in his personal devices.
Joaquin Phoenix shines in a bravely singular performance opposite Scarlett Johansson’s brilliant voice performance as the AI program, Samantha, and a fan of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is sure to appreciate its own meditations on love and loss.
12 Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)
Before taking on the Jurassic World series, director Colin Trevorrow earned a lot of indie movie cred with his writing partner Derek Connolly with this small-budget sci-fi rom-com hit about a group of journalists investigating a wanted ad seeking a companion to go back in time with.
An upbeat movie befitting its cast of sitcom favorites such as Jake Johnson and Aubrey Plaza, Safety Not Guaranteed still has enough honest emotion at its core to make it one of the most standout romantic movies of recent years.
11 500 Days of Summer (2009)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as a lovestruck young man who falls for the enimgamtic Summer, played by Zooey Deschanel, and sinks into a self-absorbed spiral of depression when things fall apart.
One of the most beloved modern breakup movies, 500 Days of Summer may not have the quirks of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind but is nonetheless a satisfyingly alternative examination of love and relationships which many movie fans have found to be hugely relatable.
10 Cold Souls (2009)
Paul Giamatti stars as Paul Giamatti in 2009’s Cold Souls. Much like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the movie is filled with strange imagery and has an equally surreal concept.
Feeling unsatisfied Giamatti decides to exchange his souls via a specialist company, but things take a turn for the worse when he decides he wants it back and finds it missing. The intriguing ideas presented make this overlooked drama worth seeking out for anyone looking to scratch that metaphysical itch.
9 The One I Love (2014)
Things take a turn into the surreal for a couple when they vacation to a strange estate in an effort to save their failing marriage. Starring Mark Duplass and Elizabeth Moss, The One I Love’s unique twist sees the rug pulled out from under the couple, and the audience in the most unexpected way.
The sci-fi drama holds many surprises and warrants being watched without its big twist being spoiled. But rest assured that their lives will never be the same after their visit.
8 Punch Drunk Love (2002)
Adam Sandler delivers one of the finest performances of his career in 2002’s Punch Drunk Love. The dark comedy-drama feature Sandler playing against type in one of his most complex and serious roles to date.
After beginning a new relationship he quickly finds himself in over his head as he is extorted by a phone-sex manager who he crosses. The film effortlessly balances the couples blossoming relationship and the unexpected trouble he’s found himself in. In addition to this, the dark and realistic tone makes the romantic relationship more complex and compelling.
7 The Science Of Sleep (2006)
From the director of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Michel Gondry comes The Science of Sleep. The film explores dreams in a unique and inventive way, with a heavy dollop of quirkiness.
This may prove to be too much for some viewers to handle, as the film’s lighter and more whimsical tone distinguishes it from its contemporaries. The film’s exploration of dreams and their relationship to reality make this one of the most creative and visually interesting films of recent memory.
6 Anomalisa (2015)
Written and co-directed by Charlie Kaufman, 2015’s Anomalisa is one of the most unique animated movies ever made. The stop-motion drama aims to recreate the real world with a level of realism and detail never seen before. The film’s irony rich plot sees a customer service expert who cannot connect with anyone.
When he finally does make a connection his perspective shifts, with unexpected results. Despite the movie’s animated nature, their blossoming relationship is portrayed realistically.
5 Blue Valentine (2010)
Starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine offers a glimpse into the end of a failed relationship, that once was filled with possibilities. The film employs a unique structure to communicate this and jumps between time-periods to flesh out the couple’s life together more fully.
Much like Eternal Sunshine, the couple’s problems are on full display and it does not hold back, often coming uncomfortably close to reality. As a counterpoint to this, it also gives the audience more than enough reasons to understand why they once care for one another.
4 Stranger Than Fiction (2006)
Stranger than Fiction sees a man’s world turned upside down when he begins to suspect that he is a character in a book. The high concept idea makes this one of the most surreal comedy-dramas of recent memory and delivers plenty of laughs.
Starring Will Ferrell it remains one his most interesting performances to date and sees him play against type as a boring I.R.S auditor. The films unusual concept make the romantic relationship he begins more complex and sees him question his reality.
3 Synecdoche, New York (2008)
2008’s Synecdoche, New York stars Philip Seymour Hoffman as a theater director struggling to hold his life together, who then decides to recreate New York inside a huge warehouse for his new play. The films inaccessible nature may put some viewers off, as it blurs the line between reality and fiction, making it difficult to discern what is real.
The film, much like Eternal Sunshine offers more upon repeat viewings. The story spans decades and presents a series of complex and unorthodox relationships, putting each character under the microscope and forcing them to re-examine themselves.
2 Lost In Translation (2003)
Starring Bill Murray as a movie star having a mid-life crisis, alongside Scarlett Johansson as a collage graduate unsure what to do with her life, Lost in Translation is without a doubt one of the highlights of their esteemed careers.
The unlikely couple forms a bond during their time together in Tokyo, despite their sizable age difference. The grounded nature of the movie makes it one of the most realistic romantic movies ever made, as it flies it the face of the traditional romantic stories, and adopts a more subtle approach. Parts of the movie are also widely considered to be autobiographical explorations of director Sofia Coppola’s experiences from when she was married to fellow director Spike Jonze, particularly during his production of Being John Malkovich.
1 Adaptation (2002)
Another glimpse inside the mind of Charlie Kaufman, Adaptation stars Nicolas Cage as Kaufamn, and his fictional twin brother, who struggles to adapt a book into a movie and quickly finds himself in over his head.
The strange concept of the movie is based on the writer’s actual experiences. Because of this, events quickly begin to unravel from the ordinary and into the world of the weird, with unexpected results.
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