At your peril should you be fooled by the slightly inexplicable advertising pitch of this film that presents it as a happy feel-good teeny 'comedy', nor should you be tempted to classify it according to the presence of Jim Carey and Kirsten Dunst. In truth, as you would expect of a film named from a quote by Alexander Pope, it is far more complex, more worthwhile, darker and more special than that.
The plot, in a nutshell: Joel (Carey) discovers that his eccentric, impulsive, blue-haired ex-girlfriend, Clementine (Kate Winslet) has had all memory of him erased by a company specialising in the procedure, and he decides to have it done too. There is a subplot involving Elijah Wood and Kirsten Dunst, but the focus of the film is certainly the messed-up tragicomic alternately perfect and disastrous relationship between Joel and Clementine. The majority of the film then takes place inside Joel's mind as he chases Clementine through his memories and watches them fade away.
The deepest parts of Joel's memory begin to collapse in chilling, sad and sometimes downright scary sequences, as books lose their writing, buildings tumble, places and people fade and disappear and faces lose their features. At the same time we catch a glimpse of the insecurities of both characters that originally brought them together. Corny romanticism is thrown aside: this film is uncompromising, realistic and honest, and the relationship between the characters is both glowing with light and life and shadowed by their differences. The delightful idiosyncrasies of the objects Joel names as having an association with Clementine (a giant stuffed skeleton doll, people made of potatoes, journals, mugs, pictures, cards, snowglobes...) reveal the crazy truth that exists between people.
There is some humour, but it's neither slapstick nor simple and always touched by sadness: there is the charming familiarity of childhood humiliation and of speaking the words through to a silent film, and the pathetic humour behind the old woman in the waiting room preparing to have her memory erased with tears in her eyes, clutching a box containing a bone and a dog-bowl with her pet's name on it. Not a shiny happy film, then, but a dark, fractured and yet somehow uplifting account of love.