Monday, February 1, 2016

Eyes Wide Shut

Eyes Wide Shut; drama, UK, 1999; D: Stanley Kubrick, S: Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Sydney Pollack, Todd Field, Vinessa Shaw, Rade Šerbedžija, Sky du Mont, Leelee Sobieski

New York during Christmas. Dr. Bill is seemingly happily married to Alice, all until one night, under the influence of marijuana, she confesses that she had sexual fantasies with a man she met a year ago, and wanted to run away with. Shocked by this revelation, Bill wonders through the streets: he meets a prostitute, but decides not to have sex with her. He encounters an old friend, Nick, who tells him about a costume party that ends with an orgy, and Bill thus rents a costume to go there. In the mansion, Bill is exposed and forced to take his clothes, but a masked woman offers herself in his place. The next day, he reads that an ex-model dies from drug overdose. Bill's friend Victor tells him the costume party was all a charade, and that nobody was hurt. Back home, Bill confesses everything to Alice, who tells him they need to have sex.

"Eyes Wide Shut", his final feature film, offers Stanley Kubrick-'light', where the director does not rise to the occasion neither in style nor in content - and instead just settles for a vague, conventional art-film. His trademark visual style is still good, yet compared to his previous films - "The Shining", "A Clockwork Orange", "2001: A Space Odyssey" - where it was wonderfully inventive and adventurous, here is seems too static and standard. Unfortunately, the story itself is also meagre and unsatisfying as well: it can be interpreted both ways, either as literal or as simply the protagonist's dream state, which is alluded in the title, since the characters he encounters all mirror his subconscious stance about sexuality (a prostitute, a gay hotel concierge, the costume orgy as the symbol for group sex) - but a big error is that Tom Cruise actually has more sex in "Jerry Maguire" than in this film, which does not feature a single real sex scene, and thus seems to cheat and undermine its own theme. The costume party that ends in a (scarce and obscured) orgy is a prime example to the indecisive tone of the film: it can either be interpreted as some sort of a secret society cult, or simply just as a plain swinger club for the celebrities who want to have sexual encounters anonymously. Only the second interpretation works - since the first one would be so complex it would make the whole subplot strangely unexplored since the story ends just when it got to be good. Cruise and Nicole Kidman are good in their roles, yet since the characters are not especially explored, they cannot channel their energy into something greater.


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