Stanley Kubrick's daring last film is a bracing psychosexual journey, a riveting suspense tale and a career milestone for stars Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. Cruise plays a doctor who plunges into an erotic foray that threatens his marriage - and may ensnare him in a murder mystery - after his wife's (Kidman) admission of sexual longings. As the story sweeps from doubt and fear to self-discovery and reconciliation, Kubrick orchestrates it with masterful flourishes. Graceful tracking shots, rich colors, startling images: bravura traits that make Kubrick a filmmaker for the ages are here to keep everyone's eyes wide open.
Stanley Kubrick's final and most complicated masterpiece opened to extreme disappointment among reviewers from all over. Critical disappointment with the film was almost unanimous. They claimed that Kubrick was "out of touch with today's jaded sensibilities". However, as has been the case with almost every Kubrick film ever released, the critics, at first, could only see what was not there. The film was, and continues to be, completely and utterly misinterpreted by both the critical and the public eye. The main themes in Eyes Wide Shut are not those of sex and marriage - now, certainly, the story that is told by the actors alone echoes of these subjects. However, what the actors are doing onscreen more often than not was meant by Kubrick to take second place to the imagery used in the film. And the themes portrayed by the imagery are most certainly not that which mainstream reviews have let on. So what exactly is Eyes Wide Shut about, then? Not sex. That much should be obvious from the re-appearance of the film's title after the short shot of Nicole Kidman's buttocks (telling us that we're not really seeing what we're seeing). Eyes Wide Shut is about the wealth and power of society - about the upper class. It's about how the elite men in this world manipulate their inferiors and treat them like mere possessions. It is about the mistreatment of women and the lower class, and the source of that mistreatment. From a single viewing of Eyes Wide Shut one may assume that Nicole Kidman's character has some "power" in her relationship with her husband, that she has some other meaning to him and his acquaintances than an object - a possession. One will see, however, after analyzing the film carefully, that she has no power. Kidman's character claims she is looking for a job in one scene, but we never see her looking. Instead, we see men - powerful men, who manipulate and control their inferiors to suit their needs - looking at her. Look carefully and one will see a series of parallels between Kidman's character and that of the call-girl we see at Ziegler's Christmas party - both have red hair, are approximately the same height, and seem to have a fondness for mind-altering drugs. The character played by Kidman is nothing more than another, married prostitute. One of the most disturbing images the film shows us is that of Nicole Kidman's character "training" her daughter to follow in her footsteps - the footsteps of the wife as a possession, the wife as an object... the wife as an "upper class call-girl". When we see her daughter working on math problems, she is trying to figure out which boy has more money than the other one. The one sentence we hear as she is reading a storybook to her mom is something to the effect of "and so I jumped into bed". The countless scenes of Kidman's character and her daughter grooming themselves side-by-side should make this point obvious enough. As well, in the film's final scene, we see the daughter flitting around the shopping store, picking up items that all relate her back to the women that Bill Harford has abused in his nighttime excursions - she picks up a Barbie doll (similar to Milich's daughter, who he is pimping off to any man who wants her), a teddy bear (just like the one we see when Bill Harford is with one of the prostitutes), and a purple baby carriage (like the one we see twice outside the prostitutes' door). And for one last disturbing flourish, Kubrick has her walk past a toy conspicuously called "The Magic Circle". History repeats itself and has come full circle, and Bill and Alice are too busy to notice. Recall the cafe that Bill Harford walks into when he discovers that Mandy - the girl he believes saved his life at the orgy - has died. Notice the music that's playing in the background. It's no ordinary classical music. It's Mozart's Requiem. The piece is a song mourning the death of someone. One may think it touching of Kubrick to include this little thing in the film, but it doesn't stop there - look closely at the paintings covering the walls in the room. They are antique paintings of women - women who, in their times, were treated like possessions just as each and every woman we see in this film is treated. It is a requiem for them - it's a requiem for all those who have been downtrodden on by the socially elite. The film's final scene has been interpreted by many as a happy ending. I do not see it that way. Bill and Alice are in a position to DO SOMETHING about all of the atrocities that have been committed by the upper class. Someone has been killed and they have this one opportunity to expose it. But no. They're both too caught up in their own problems to notice, or even understand, the bigger picture. In Kubrick's last word on this subject, or, for that matter, any subject, Alice and Bill, along with the rest of the world are "**cked". Given the chance to change the world in which they live for the better, they give it up - nay, they fail to even acknowledge that the opportunity exists. For all of their meaningless chatter about being wide awake now, they're still screwed over. Their eyes are still wide shut.Read more ›
Not to suggest that you can expect to see Kubrick's last film in a stunning new light on Blu-Ray, and although like any Blu-Ray it is certainly beautiful, by comparison to some other Blu-Rays, it is not an exceptional transfer. I've had a Hitachi 1080i plasma on my wall for about a year now and I finally got a Playstation 3 so I can buy and enjoy Blu-Rays. Unlike the switch from video to DVD, the upgrade to Blu-Ray doesn't necessarily mean I will have to start my movie collection all over again as I can play all of my DVDs as well, but I was prompted to buy Eyes Wide Shut (a DVD I do own) when I realized it was the unrated version only previously available in Europe. I thought that might mean it would be closer to what Kubrick intended Eyes Wide Shut to be, but the additional footage is really just some extra sexual content. I should clarify that it isn't really extra footage at all, it's just that a bunch of robed figures blocking our view from some naughty behavior in the American release were actually removed in this version so you can see the naughty behavior. I didn't even realize the figures were there and now I have to get my arms around the reasons why they were included to begin with. I don't know, perhaps if Mike Huckabee becomes president those mysterious robed figures will make a dramatic comeback. That might verify my suspicions.
Nevertheless, I'm not convinced this is what Kubrick intended Eyes Wide Shut to be, but contemplating what he did intend is fascinating to me. I actually consider Kubrick among my favorite directors, so this fascination is probably not as applicable to non-fans. Of his films, Eyes Wide Shut is, along with Barry Lyndon, his least appreciated and most criticized, although not by me. Eyes Wide Shut is actually one of my favorite Kubrick films. Even though it is not as cohesive as his others; it is, on the surface at least, among his most stylized. The interactions characters have are slow and deliberate and it gives the meaning behind each word and each frame more clarification. Many call this quality dreamlike and it is. Expressing reality doesn't seem to be a priority in Eyes Wide Shut and I wonder if the film was ever meant to be reality in the first place. Although the film is dreamlike per se, there is nothing at all to indicate that any of it was a dream. In fact, the presence of the cult mask on Alice and Bill's bed verifies the exact opposite. Still, I for one believe the style is absolutely intentional and that is supported by the meticulous photography in the film. Almost every shot seems like it was mulled over again and again. It is no wonder Kubrick had the reputation for doing almost a hundred takes. He was a perfectionist and, at least visually, Eyes Wide Shut has more moments of perfection than not. The acting is good too but really, the control Kubrick has is so evident that it is hard to credit the actors. However, Nicole Kidman is particularly strong.
With all that said, Eyes Wide Shut may seem otherworldly, but its psychological commentary on marital fidelity from the male perspective is very real. Dr. Bill Harford (Tom Cruise) is told by his wife Alice (Nicole Kidman) that she had at one time thought about having an affair. The paranoia, possibilities, and the trials he endures psychologically and in terms of his fidelity to her, are tested as he walks around New York City and guides us through his many surreal and outwardly sexual encounters. It is an exhibition of his gradual psychological breakdown after his wife shared her secret and all of his encounters seem to be taunting him in his fragile state. There's more than enough here to make it a great film and to connect almost all of the dots, however, some interesting conspiracy theories exist about the orgy cult that becomes the center of the film's climax. I'd recommend checking those out if you like this movie but I'm not going to reveal my opinion of them one way or the other.
With all of that said, I thought the characters themselves are normal and well-adjusted, so the commentary itself is even more significant. They are actually good people in a film about doing what is all too often perceived as bad things (i.e. sex). I'm sure there are good reasons not to like Eyes Wide Shut, but for the most part I thought it was unfairly reviewed because of the sexual content and the sexual commentary. We are so used to seeing nudity strictly used gratuitously, that it was easy to be cynical of its consistent use here, and that is just the visual sexual elements never mind what the film's deeper intentions are overall. I'm not surprised I guess because if the film has a flaw, it is that it's too cryptic at times. Either way, I think it's a great movie and it's nice to see this version released on the best technology we have.Read more ›
The final film from the master Kubrick. An eerie detached exploration of erotic desire & obsession. The story an argument on fidelity with wife sends a doctor in NYC to check out the seedy Manhatten underground streets & into a variety of sexual encounters and situations. Tom Cruise plays the sexual frustrated know it all attitude doctor and I have to say he is not one of my favorites but he does pull this off quite well. Nicole Kidman plays his curious wife. He ends up at an exclusive secret upper-class orgy which could lead to dangerous consequences. The cinematography is dark and creepy in usual Kubrick fashion. The acting is incredible & the storyline is unique. The movie touches on the dark side of sexual desires of one man who thought he knew it all but realized his eyes were wide shut. One of my favorite Kubrick films worth viewing.
Stanley Kubrick had by then become a recluse in the twilight years of his life that he dedicated to filming this movie. The timing was impeccable as Kubrick had then died shortly after completing this film leaving no unfinished bits. As perhaps a last gift, Kubrick gives us a final completed film which rounds of his stellar resume.
The movie opens as we are let into the private lives of a young New York doctor; a general practitioner named Bill Harford who lives with his wife Alice. Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.
After a series of life's mundane events which, in the context of living a life and having to one day die, even can seem overwhelming, Bill Harford is driven into the night attempting to assuage the onslaught of the latest demons which life had to offer him, like it seems to offer the rest of us. These demons include his wife admitting that she had fantasies of sleeping with another man.
He attempts to meet one of the women who talked with him the previous night of the party. In order to compensate for his wife's admitted psychic infidelity, he attempts to have an affair, but a phone call from his wife interrupts this. He also learns that the woman he was looking for who was not home had contracted AIDS. On another night, he ducks into a restaurant and learns from reading a newspaper that his old high school friend and medical school colleague and then dropout was playing at a nearby jazz piano bar.
Meeting his friend, Nick Nightingale, he finds out from Nick about a party in the Hamptons, and it really looks like the Hamptons, but this being a Kubrick movie was inevitably, invariably filmed in England. Amongst a flotilla of expensive limousines, Dr Bill Harford shows up in a cab that waits patiently for him outside the door almost announcing his presence while he seeks to infiltrate the interior party incognito. He encounters an eye opening, bacchanalian, Felliniesque lurid and clandestine nocturnal costume party which dissolves into an orgy. Talk about Freud's polymorphously perverse, anything goes at this party and the audience to questionable benefit is treated to obscene vistas of ubiquitous copulation and sexual play. It is sometime after this point that the doctor is called into the center to explain himself. After some twist or tryst or otherwise some schism deliberations at the party, the doctor is released into the night with a warning not to repeat what he has seen nor to ever return.
Despite such entreatments, the doctor does return again but is greeted at the door by a dour faced statue of an old Republican gentleman who with steely eyes hands him a note which is basically a repetition of the previous night's conditional death threat.
The movie ends with the doctor reeling and incredulous as he escorts his wife and daughter at a mall for Christmas shopping.
Stanley Kubrick died in 1999 and the next movie he was going to do was A.I..
In a way, he also did A.I. because Kubrick had only planned to be a behind the scenes consultant, an associate producer while Steven Spielberg was to be the intended director at the helm.Read more ›