Movie Magazine International

Eyes Wide Shut

USA - 1999

Movie Review By Heather Clisby

Just three days prior to the public release of Stanley Kubrick's final film, "Eyes Wide Shut," I'm eagerly watching Tom Cruise's character prepare to attend a mysterious orgy. Then, the screen goes blank and nothing but sounds remain. Initially, the audience believes it to be a Kubrick trick, a blindfolded camera perhaps, and endured without complaint. Eventually, the building had to be evacuated and fire engines screamed their way to the theatre. Kubrick is just that good.

Actually, the accidental cut could not have been cleaner for this is the pivotal point of no return for Dr. Bill Harford. After silently listening to the excruciating details of his wife's lust for other men, he's off on a spontaneous odyssey of sexual exploration and moral pondering.

Nicole Kidman is Alice Harford, the wondering wife in question, who finally gets so frustrated with her husband not being "the jealous type" that she confesses under a haze of marijuana, a particular evening the previous summer when she came dangerously close to having an affair with a complete stranger.

Throughout the film, Dr. Bill comes close to messing around with several women including a prostitute and the bereaved daughter of a deceased patient but never actually goes through with any naughty acts. Ironically, he's featured as a lust object for women. They come on to him, by God; it's not his fault!

Kubrick spent a year on this project and I'm guessing most of it was spent taking great care with all the actors. Beyond the high-profile leads - who both do fabulous work here - every character on the screen is loaded with stories to tell and each one is in expert hands. Marie Richardson as the confused Marion, was just dead-on; nervous facial tics are not easy.

This film will have stable couples across the land looking nervously at one another, searching the familiar eyes of their mate and asking: "Do you have something to tell me?" Exactly what the director wanted, I assume. His final trick? To bring our pretty lives crashing down.

For what could be more scary than to take the most comfy, secure scenario - attractive, young, wealthy, happily married couple with beautiful child just before Christmastime in Manhattan - and implode it with basic insecurities and natural human sexual curiosity? We're so safe but God forbid should our partner ever feel the strains of lust for the UPS guy or that pang in the loins for the aerobics instructor who lives in the building. I mean, they couldn't, could they? They wouldn't, would they?

© 1999 - Heather Clisby - Air Date: 7/21/99

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