Directed by: Stanley Kubrick
Written by: Stanley Kubrick and Frederic Raphael
Starring: Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Sydney Pollack, and Leelee Sobieski
I am still having a hard time deciding which of the following two things
is troubling me more: that some of this country's top critics showered
so much praise on the late Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut, or
that talented actors such as Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise were unable
to produce any other cinematic effort in nearly two years because they
were still working on this utterly disappointing film.
There's no denying that the late icon was a mastermind, but when the
words genius and masterpiece are associated with the filmmaker's farewell
film, then I begin to wonder out loud if I was watching the same picture.
As far as the principals are concerned, Kidman is a terrific actress,
who we lost out on seeing in at least a handful of more meaningful projects.
As for her husband, Cruise was somehow able to squeeze in an Oscar nominated
turn in Magnolia, and will, undoubtedly, swallow up the almighty
domestic box office whole this summer with his sequel to Mission Impossible,
but he spent even more time on the Eyes set than his wife - making
it seem like an eternity since Jerry Maguire. Come to think about
it, after watching Eyes, I think this is the thing that upsets
me the most. He lost out on two years (in his prime) and his fans suffered
a whole lot more in the process: a two-year drought with no silver screen
As for the director's silver screen swan song, this sexual odyssey starring
Hollywood's premier husband and wife team - and one of its biggest commercial
assets - is really as artsy as you can get and is everything the director
was: secretive, calculating, and deliberately slow-paced. The film is
visually stunning. Although it failed to pick up even one measly Oscar
nomination, the sets, costumes, lighting, and photography were all gorgeous
and, along with the musical score, a perfect complement to the film's
overall dark and gothic atmosphere and tone. Once again, it's a visual
delight; it's just too bad everything else about it was so appalling.
Maybe I just didn't get the point, but after nearly three hours of tortoise-paced
boredom, I didn't want to play Sherlock Holmes any longer.
This overly complex film is easy to dissect: one night after attending
a party given by millionaire, Victor Ziegler (Sydney Pollack), one of
her husband's friends, art curator Alice Harford (Kidman) reveals to her
doctor husband Bill (Cruise) that she almost (emphasis on almost) cheated
on him once with a handsome sailor (the fantasy sequences of this affair
is probably the steamiest thing this picture had going for it). The couple
fight and Bill - still reeling from the shock of his wife's admission
- storms out. He spends the next several ( countless it seems) hours wondering
the streets of New York contemplating what his wife almost did and what
he should do now with this important, new bit of information. He proceeds
to discover and uncover a secret sex society, of which he is not a welcome
member. He comes to find out much more than he should, and before you
know it, his life, and the lives of his wife and daughter, is in great
Too much time and energy was spent needlessly on the film's controversial
NC-17 nature and its use of gratuitous nudity. The bottom line here with
this one is that after all was said and done, the film simply did not
live up to the hype. It is nowhere near as sexy and erotic as promised.
Instead, the legendary filmmaker delivers an dull, slow, and pointless
movie that we spend too much time trying to make sense of. Sure, Tom's
character is confused and tormented throughout, but with the innumerable
shots of him walking up and down the streets of NYC over and over in despair,
I think that it's the audience that's really being tormented here.
Maybe I missed a lot of what was going on here or just didn't let myself
open up to the powerful messages that Kubrick's film was supposed to convey.
But maybe I saw the director's finale for what it was: forgettable fare.