Eyes Wide Shut Reviews
Plot: Happily married New York City doctor, Bill Harford (Tom Cruise) appears to have the perfect life with his wife Alice (Nicole Kidman). When she admits that she had a potent sexual fantasy about a man she never met and was tempted to cheat on him, he is left reeling from shock, and goes out into the Manhattan night where he meets strange characters and enters into a world of sexual adventure for the first time in his life.
Within minutes of the film's opening, we are voyeurs in the lives of our main characters. We witness them at a party where Alice flirts with an older lothario who imparts his wisdom that women only got married in order to lose their virginity, freeing them to do as they pleaded with other men. Meanwhile Bill is being accosted and propositioned to an upstairs bedroom by two beautiful models, promising to show him "where the rainbow ends". Despite these encounters amounting to nothing, they set the tone for the rest of the film in how this seemingly contented married couple will have their fidelity questioned.
It's moments like these that showcase Kubrick's command of space. I love his ability for crafting a place or scene that is vast yet strangely intimate. He gives a place importance and here it is no different. Despite being set in the vibrant sprawling nightlife of New York City, we seem enclosed in the lives of our two main characters. Kubrick's craftsmanship was just as evident in the The Shining whereby he conveys the loneliness and isolation of his characters and somehow manages a palpable sense of claustrophobia within grand open spaces. If for nothing else, it brings his actors to the forefront and enhances their performances. Speaking of which, Cruise and Kidman are very brave and dynamic here. Their real life marriage (at the time) effectively seems to permeate the characters - giving a very intimate portrayal of a strained, unfulfilled relationship. It should also be noted that with Kubrick's fastidious approach to filming that the psychological torment that he put his actors through led to the break-up of Cruise and Kidman not long after filming wrapped. Much was said about Kidman's performance but this is by-and-large Cruise's film. He's the anchor and it's among his strongest work as he absolutely smolders on screen as his Dr. Harford is always heavily weighted on and there's an escalating sense of danger in his experiences.
Kubrick's last film is not just one to be viewed but one to be immersed in. That's the absolute beauty and captivating nature of the film. It draws you in and, much like the protagonist, you have no idea what you're in for but you're swept along with it as if in some hypnogogic state. As a self-proclaimed admirer of David Lynch, Kubrick has managed to make a film that the idiosyncratic Lynch would be proud of. In the latter stages it becomes quite an intriguing, surrealistic mystery that begins to question Harford's perception of events. Over the course of the evening, Harford experiences a prostitute, a proposition from a teenage girl, the suggestion of his sexual orientation and, of course, an en masse orgy. But, is this the world that he's been cloistered from experiencing a reawakening? Or are these manifestations of his sexual fantasies and desires? These are the questions that begin to surface as the film's dreamlike, ambiguous nature grows stronger.
It's not just what's underneath Eyes Wide Shut that's impressive, though. On the surface, the film is
also visually stunning. Kubrick shoots on a grand scale where production designers Leslie Tomkins and Roy Walker capture both the interiors and exteriors with lavish flamboyancy. There's also an abundance of colour on display and cinematographer Larry Smith deserves the utmost credit with his stunning contrast of warm and cold colours that adds to the foreboding atmosphere that's tangible within the themes of the film.
An avant garde, near masterpiece from Kubrick. Consider, if you will, David Lynch directing Martin Scorsese's absurd, dark comedy After Hours and you'll get a little closer to understanding it. Premature judgement has harmed the film but it is still, admittedly, not for everyone. It's not the explicit orgy that people expected but a deeply surreal, and hypnotic, psychological exploration of sexual tension, paranoia and jealousy. But if viewed from a subconcious perspective it is a hugely rewarding experience. Sadly, it was Kubrick's last film but it's also one of his finest.
Magic and Psychedelic.
Yeah, there's a lot of fun nudity, but after awhile it hits a saturation point that makes it hard to find that stuff interesting, and then you're left with a boring fairly loveless marriage that's not all that interesting, to be perfectly honest.
It's worth a rental for a bit of further observation, but it's still far from my favorite Kubrick film.
The plot is essentially useless and meaningless.
The sex scenes were boring and not interesting.
The acting was contrived and forced.
Literally one of the worst movies of all time.