A particular image that is repeated throughout the story to convey the rough part of Joel and Clementine’s relationship is that of Joel’s damaged car. In one of the very first scenes of the film, Joel thinks his neighbor has staged a hit-and-run on his car, leaving it damaged, and this start to his day is part of what spurs him to take the train to work and ultimately meet Clementine again. In Joel’s memories, Clementine was intoxicated on the last time she sees him and says she wrecked his car to which Joel reacts angrily and calls her pathetic. Joel is shown crying in his car on multiple different occasions, and whenever it is shown, the side with the damage is facing the camera. This motif of his car relays the theme that relationships are complicated, but his car is a constant reminder of Clementine and the impact that she had on his life. Furthermore, in it was in Joel’s car is that the first time the pair...
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...s are orange where he calls her his tangerine. Furthermore, as Joel’s memory is being erased and he is trying to hold on to them, a shot of Joel and Clementine holding hands while lying down on ice shifts to one of them in the same position in the middle of a crowded sidewalk in the next frame, somewhere he does not want to be because that means his memories are fading. His memories of the past in the context of parallelism all show Joel in happy moments, memories that he obviously cherishes with Clementine. When these shift to the present, they are all things that would make Joel angry: erasing his memories, another man using his same line with Clementine, and being in the midst of people instead of on their own on an abandoned frozen lake. Without Clementine, he is socially anxious and depressed, but she makes him appreciate the spontaneity and happiness of life.
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