Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
Reviewed on 2012 January 17
I had tried several times to get interested in this, because it’s Kubrick’s final movie. I watched it one summer night, trying to get involved and just not caring about either the Nicole Kidman or Tom Cruise rich, spoiled characters. But Kubrick is Kubrick, and I decided to try it one more time today. Admittedly, I liked it better this time, but one full viewing is enough for me.
Doctor, or rather, DOCTOR Bill Harford (Cruise), is very proud of his title, his status, and his lot in life; he’s on his way to what would appear to be a formal, quasi-obligatory Christmas party, hurrying his lovely wife Alice (Kidman) along. Alice asks how she looks; Bill gives her a cursory “great” and the couple leave for a mansion that puts their swanky apartment in the shade. Victor Ziegler (Sydney Pollack) throws a bash where neither of the Harfords know a soul, but two “models” (heh) flirt with Bill, Alice catches the eye of what would appear to be some decayed nobility, and nothing happens, because Alice drunkenly reminds her lech that she’s married. Bill is called upstairs to tend to an overdose emergency for one of Victor’s “friends”. Yet this part is still interesting, because even before things start getting weird, we see that Ziegler and his ilk are out of the Harford’s circle. A good chunk of these people would appear to be rich freaks.
After the party, Alice shares a spliff with Bill, and in a scene that made me want to punch her, decides now is a fine time to pick a fight about nothing. She wonders if Bill ran off with the two girls, and Bill assures her he’d never do that to her. After putting his foot in his mouth, he also clumsily and somewhat smugly says he’s sure of Alice, not because of his own awesomeness or anything, but because he trusts her. A normal woman would let this go, or pick it up later when they weren’t, you know, babbling. Alice instead gets herself worked up, telling Bill all about a naval officer she fantasized about. Bill, in a jealous snit, decides to go have a little extramarital fun and discovers some unsettling things, to put it mildly.
I noticed a few things: the use of red and blue throughout the movie, and the odd, surreal way the Christmas lights in the various houses, rich or poor, were the same type and had the same color scheme. Most of all, I noticed those freaky eight-pointed stars at the Ziegler bash. This kind of stuff launched a bunch of speculation about what Kubrick may or may not have been trying to tell us. I think he may have been punking us and giving us a glittery adaption of Traumnovelle at the same time. My main objection was the pacing. I don’t know whether Kubrick was trying to mimic the weird quality of a dream or what, but the repetition of lines from character to character was grating. The other problem was that the Alice character was pretty unlikable. I think for something like this to pull you in requires more attachment to the characters. The one thing that did work was the creep factor, the idea of a secret society doing the stuff depicted here, and then menacing a witness.