Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9

USA/United Kingdom 1999
Directed by
Stanley Kubrick
159 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

Eyes Wide Shut

Kubrick's last film (he died four days after delivering the final cut to his studio, Warner Bros) is a meticulously and beautifully-crafted film about the social constraints placed on sexual desire, looked at through the alembic of a foundering marriage. Based on the 1926 novel 'Traumnovelle' by Arthur Schnitzler, which Kubrick had optioned twenty years earlier and adapted by Frederic Raphael, it is set in the milieu of haute-bourgeois Manhattan (it was actually shot at Pinewood Studios in London). Tom Cruise plays a wealthy MD and Nicole Kidman his wife. The story tracks the extra-marital sexual longings that beset them despite their ostensible loyalty to each other . Most of the attention is on the Cruise character as he, unsettled by his wife’s confession that she once desired another man, embarks on a quest to explore his own errant desires.

There are problems with the film. It is not clear why Cruise’s character, who appears to be a general practitioner, is so wealthy and Cruise himself is completely unconvincing as a medico (Kubrick's original choice for the role was Harrison Ford who lent his name to Cruise's character). He is much better playing the boyishly good-looking charmer, although his inability to consummate his libidinal urges is quite staggering. Nicole Kidman, on the other hand, is much more effective, bringing a real (literally so, as she appears nude quite often) physicality to her role. Also the climactic orgy scene tends to play like the Masonic Lodge episode of The Simpsons rather than having the feeling of Satyricon-like depravity that was apparently intended. Nevertheless, as a depiction of the conflict between sexual desire and social organization Eye Wide Shut is commendably confronting as Kubrick masterfully guides us to his last word on the subject, spoken by Kidman, “Fuck”.

FYI: Cruise and Kidman were married in real life but would divorce in 2001.




Want something different?

random vintage best worst