EYES WIDE SHUT
(Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Sydney Pollack; directed by Stanley Kubrick)
by Gerry Wang
It's been 3 days since I've seen EYES WIDE SHUT, and I still cannot
write this review. I've started it, but trashed it, started and trashed, and so on.
Because there is just too many things to say about this movie. There are too many
interpretations, too many layers to peel off, too much material to sift through, and
absolutely too much thinking involved to truly analyze EYES WIDE SHUT. My mind is going 60
MPH, my fingers 10 MPH, so I'm scrambling to get it all on paper (so to speak). This
review will be about MY interpretation of the movie. My opinion, and my viewpoint.
However, my arguments can be easily debated, and this is part of the beauty of EYES WIDE
But if asked merely for a recommendation, I would give it with 100% of
my confidence. This is one of the best movies of the year. It is a significant and
noteworthy achievement from the late Stanley Kubrick, who definitely has locked up Oscar
nominations for Best Director and Best Picture. I'm not sure whether EYES WIDE SHUT will
win Best Picture, but Best Director is a sure bet. I can't say whether this is Kubrick's
best film, since I haven't seen all of his other movies.
I do feel EYES WIDE SHUT was better than 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, another
one of Kubrick's landmark cinematic accomplishments. It's ranked pretty high on the AFI
Top 100 Films of All-Time list. Therefore right now I am giddy with anticipation of
renting Kubrick's other masterpieces. I'm sure you guys have seen SPARTACUS. That was a
grand epic, but too mainstream to truly be called Kubrickian. That was clearly a Kirk
Douglas star vehicle under the tight reins of the studios.
However, Warner Bros. let Kubrick have complete control over EYES WIDE
SHUT. His budget was unlimited. He had to time schedule, no deadlines. He discarded stars
left and right that couldn't make his shooting schedule that stretched out over a year and
a half. Stars like Jennifer Jason Leigh and Harvey Keitel were released due to their
inability to keep up with Kubrick's demands. He reportedly shot some scenes with over 100
takes. Which is torture, but delivers a perfect product. Yet Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman
stuck to this rigorous labor. Both give the most passionate performances of their careers,
and Kubrick has delivered a film that most clearly expresses his innermost vision.
Right at the beginning, before Kubrick even finished filming, there was
a tremendous amount of hype and mystery. There was an iron shroud of secrecy surrounding
the production, leading to countless rumors and theories. Some said EYES WIDE SHUT was an
erotic thriller about two psychiatrists that explored extra-marital affairs. I'll debunk
that one now. It ain't true. Another rumor said that this was a porn movie, and we get to
see Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman pork it on-screen. As much as I hoped this rumor was
true, it ain't. There was also a rumor that Tom Cruise wore a dress or something. That
ain't true either, but he does get dressed up in a cool costume.
Then the teaser trailer came out, and over the Net people were able to
view it uncensored. You know, the one where Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman are naked and
Tom's groping Nicole's tits. Yeah, that one. Put away those napkins and lotion. Then we
hear how EYES WIDE SHUT had 65 seconds of explicit sex scenes edited by obscuring them
digitally, placing figures in front of the people porking. (Sorry, under the Rice World
Decency Code, article 69, paragraph 69, I cannot say "fucking" anymore) The
digital censorship, frankly, was quite insulting and unnecessary. I found myself saying,
Get the pork out of the way you dipshit!!! Oh well. It didn't diminish the overall effect
of the movie at all.
By now you might think EYES WIDE SHUT is about eroticism and sex.
You're under the impression that this movie glamorizes human sexuality as a beautiful
thing. By flaunting Nicole Kidman's delightful nude figure in the teaser, Kubrick has set
us up for a shock. Because EYES WIDE SHUT is about the ugliness of human nature when
dealing with sexual jealousy and obsession. It is about relationships between couples and
the tensions that bubble underneath when dealing with the sexual jealousy that is always
on the back of people's minds.
You guys should know. When you're with a girl, you know that other guys
are checking her out, and that pisses you off. But you never say anything. You just shrug
it off. But how about when the girl returns that attraction? Can you shrug it off then?
This is every guy's worst fear in a relationship. This is what EYES WIDE SHUT explores.
The fear. This fear leads to revenge. The bulk of the movie is about Tom Cruise's
character Bill Harford seeking revenge against his wife, in a subtle, subliminal way.
The Harfords are a well to do upper class New York family. Bill is a
handsome, hunkish doctor. Alice (Nicole Kidman) is a faithful wife of 9 years, who
currently is out of a job, but a full-time mother for their beloved daughter Helena. They
have an idyllic existence. They're rich, they live in a plush Central Park apartment, and
damn they're good-looking. But one day at a party thrown by a family friend, Bill's world
starts to unravel. Both Bill and Alice flirt around at the party, and they both receive
sexual overtures. But due to their loyalty to the marriage, they both refuse. However,
they both can't but help but wonder, What if? You see, this marriages has lost its spark
and fire. This is never clearly stated, but one can interpret it that way.
Anyways, later that night before bed, the Harfords smoke some pot to
relax themselves. However, Alice, high as a kite, reveals to Bill that just last year on a
vacation she had a sexual fantasy about a Naval Officer she saw. He made her wet, and she
wanted his hard cock inside her. She was ready to throw it all away. She was ready to give
up her husband, her family, her life, just to have sex with that Naval Officer. But she
didn't. Infidelity isn't as common as you think in reality. I for one, can absolutely
never cheat on a spouse. It's probably the most horrible sin.
Bill is unraveled by this revelation, and his mind goes into a
tailspin. Later, on a housecall, he can't shake the image of his wife getting porked by
another man. It haunts him like a nightmare. He begins to question his marriage. He
questions his own ability to satisfy her lust. It was because of human libido that his
marriage almost suffered a meltdown had Alice succumbed to her urges. Bill gradually
descends into total vindication mode. He almost sleeps with a prostitute named Domino
(Vinessa Shaw). He later is drawn to an orgy and gets someone killed. Still, although
shaken afterward, Bill is stil tempted to call up someone who was lusting after him. Bill
wants to get back at Alice for driving him to the edge of madness. Yet, he fails. Does he
purposely fail? Who knows.......
This is why EYES WIDE SHUT is such a masterpiece. It makes you use your
cerebrum. It raises more questions than it answers. It opens up discussions about it.
There's never a wrong answer. Did Bill subconsciously fail on purpose? Did Alice really
pork that Naval Officer? Was Domino really diagnosed with HIV? Or was she the one who
sacrificed herself for Bill during the orgy? Was Domino's roommate part of the orgy and
hence part of the cover-up? What was the meaning of the nightmare Alice had? Did it mean
she was at the orgy too? Where did she get that mask then? Wait, maybe she found it in the
apartment. Or did she? What really happened to Nick Nightingale? Was he just roughed up?
Was he killed? Was it really all a charade? Was Mandy the one who died? Go watch EYES WIDE
SHUT and get back to me. We can talk about the questions I just brought up. I imagine that
after watching this movie, people went on to discuss it for the next few hours. It was
that rich, that textured. Absolutely astonishing.
But this is a movie that
could've just fallen flat on it face if it wasn't handled properly. Thanks to Stanley
Kubrick's direction, we are put under a spell for a good 2+ hours. From the start of EYES
WIDE SHUT, you realize you're in the hands of a master director. There's a brief flash of
Nicole Kidman slithering out of a dress. We get a glimpse of her beautiful figure, and
that's it. Then the movie starts, and you are instantly involved, entranced in its grip.
What was most remarkable about Kubrick's direction, besides brilliant tracking shots, was
the lighting. The lighting, primarily using shadows and thousands of white Christmas
lights, gave the film a dreamlike feel. Like we were in surreal nightmare. The best
special effect was the mood and atmosphere. We feel an ubiquitous sense of ominous dread,
highlighted in the climactic orgy scene.
I think the orgy scene chilled me to the bone more so than the other
scenes, which were all haunting as well. It seemed as if we stumbled into the occult.
Everyone wore a mask. Everyone was in a black robe and hood. There were Gregorian chants.
Women were being sacrificed. It took place in a huge house that looked like the one in THE
HAUNTING. Freaked me out. It seemed like what was going on was a hallowed ritual passed on
generation after generation, all the way back in the secret mason societies of Renaissance
Italy. Now if only I can get in on an orgy. I got all the perfumes and silk boxers ready.
Overall, EYES WIDE SHUT felt like I was watching one of those European
films that are too abstract to really cherish. Everything involves symbolism, and the plot
is secondary to the characters. Actually, it felt more Eastern European. EYES WIDE SHUT
was a Kafka-esque nightmarish delving into the human soul. It was dark, brooding, and
dream-like. Go read "Metamorphosis" and you'll see what I mean. Indeed, EYES
WIDE SHUT was adapted from "Traumnovelle," or "Dream Story," by some
dude named Schnitzler or something, who was one of Freud's rivals in the study of human
sexuality and its relation to the subconsious. But instead of Vienna, Kubrick moved the
story to New York. But damn it didn't feel like New York. The yuppies and punk rockers
just didn't look right.
As I said before, both Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman deliver solid
performances. But while I think Tom Cruise did a great job, I found myself more irritated
than enraptured by Nicole Kidman's Alice. I guess it was the overacting during the
marijuana scene. Plus she played more of a villainous role, the one who makes Bill risk
his life out of sexual vindication. I think the Academy will finally give Tom Cruise his
due with a nomination and perhaps a victory. It's just because of his pretty boy good
looks that he didn't win one for JERRY MAGUIRE.
But you know what was weird? I think it was Tom Cruise's pretty boy
good looks that made EYES WIDE SHUT tick. All girls go ga-ga over him, and I bet millions
want to have his baby. He is the super-hunk. So it makes sense that Nicole Kidman just
might be jealous. I mean, look at Rosie O'Donnell. She's fat and ugly, but I bet she'd
give anything to have one night with Tom Cruise. It is because of this striking
resemblance to reality that EYES WIDE SHUT works on so many levels. It really seemed as if
we were watching the Cruise couple instead of the Harfords. It felt voyeuristic.
Right from the start, we believe that this is a real life married
couple. Tom asks where his wallet is, and Nicole tells him while taking a pee pee on the
toilet, getting up and wiping her pussy, then slipping her panties back on. It felt
extremely like this was exactly how they are in real life. At it seemed like the jealousy
that tore the Harfords apart would be eerily similar to what would tear the Cruises apart.
Nicole Kidman is a foxy babe, and she frequently takes her clothes off and simulates sex
in her play, THE BLUE ROOM. Tom must be uncomfortable with this. I know I would be if I
married Jennifer Love Hewitt and she was pretending to pork some guy on-screen.
Wow, see, I told you EYES WIDE SHUT makes you think. Damn Stanley
Kubrick! Doesn't he know by know that most of the youth of America is de-sensitized to
intellect? It was funny, I saw it the day it came out, and there were throngs of teenagers
right alongside me. Heh heh. Boy were they disappointed at not once being able to see any
porking by Tom Cruise or Nicole Kidman. You know what else? I paid fucking 2.99 for a
large Mr. Pibb. Oh shit, I broke the cussing laws. Oh well. Back to my analysis......
EYES WIDE SHUT had its awesome strengths, but it also had some
weaknesses. One, it was too long and drawn out. There were patches were it loses your
attention. That scene in the billiard room was uselss and redundant. As was the HIV+ scene
with Domino's roommate. And the ending was too conventional. The resolution seemed too
simple, too abrupt. But it captured the vulgarity of human libido and relationships
succinctly. I guess that was the aim of Kubrick. Still, I felt it should have ended on a
Ok, now's the part where I offer opinions that are solely my own. The
aforementioned analyses, you may have read or heard before. But these are strictly from my
own brain. These are some other things I took from EYES WIDE SHUT. 1.) It was a social
commentary on the decadence of the bourgeosie, and 2.) It was a celebration of the natural
womanly form. What the pork, is Gerry crazy? Go watch, and you'll see.
All throughout EYES WIDE SHUT we get a sense of the social
stratification that is present in the world, and has been for thousands of years. It is
the secret society of the filthy rich that participate in the orgy. It's the rich people
who have the elegant parties with extramarital affairs going on upstairs. It's the rich
Jap businessmen who pay to dress in drag and pork teenage girls. But it's the poor people
who resort to pimping their own daughters, prostitution, playing piano in lounges.... very
Marxist. Very 19th Centruy European, eh?
Secondly, EYES WIDE SHUT celebrates the woman figure as a beautiful
thing. All breasts are un-augmented. There are chunkier, Rubenesque women. No waifs. No
Wendy Whopperses. And you know what? I found myself accepting A-cups, rather than laughing
at them. After all, that is the natural form, what women had in Eden. Women should be
worshipped for the benefit they provide to mankind. They feed kids, raise kids, satisfy
lust, and the sole purpose is to procreate and preserve the Homo Sapiens species'
Ok, now that I've confused you all, go watch EYES WIDE SHUT, and let's
start a genuine discussion about it. Sorry for making you read through my ravings. But I'm
sure you'll notice that you'll have a hard time processing EYES WIDE SHUT as well. This is
why it's one of the best films of the year.
Babe-o-meter: 3- Lovely (Nicole Kidman is babealicious, as is Vinessa Shaw)