It's no surprise to me that 'Eyes Wide Shut' was instantly rejected by mainstream audiences, who were probably expecting a soft porn movie along the same lines as 'Basic Instinct.' There is nudity and sex in the film, but it is Kubrickian nudity and sex - in other words, it's cold and vaguely off-putting, and we suspect that it is not a celebration of the procreative act. Kubrick is far to classy a director to allow a movie 12 years in the making to be a piece of erotic titillation.
This is a very rich, visually lavish, and deep film; Kubrick shows an expertise with expressive colors that we haven't seen so full-blown since his 'a Clockwork Orange.' The giant ballroom, with its bright red carpet and robed occupants, is destined to become a legendary Kubrick set piece, along the same lines as the Korova milkbar, the War Room, and the deep space victorian bedroom.
Kubrick's use of music here is unusual but compelling nonetheless. He masterfully uses Ligeti's minimalistic piano music to set the mood and heighten the tension, and the ceremonial chants of the orgy sequence are sublimely haunting.
Perhaps the only drawback is Nicole Kidman's performance; a limited actress in the first place, it doesn't help that she's required to act half asleep or stoned through most of her screen time. She pauses, draws out sentences, stammers, uses body language excessively, and in general annoys the heck out of me. Surprisingly, I have no complaints about Tom Cruise. He has proven, in Magnolia and Eyes Wide Shut, that he is a real actor.
Kubrick's final film is the work of a filmmaker who knows everything about film; watch it and be awed by his effortless command of the camera.