In tribute to legendary filmmaker Stanley Kubrick who would have celebrated his 85th birthday today, we present to you “Eyes Wide Shut,” his farewell masterpiece.
One thing about Eyes Wide Shut: it is not for everyone. If you are the type to expect adrenaline powered action sequences or quick-witted dialogue, you might not appreciate the film.
Tom Cruise stars as Dr. Bill Harford, a well-to-do Manhattanite who is drawn to promiscuity upon learning that his wife, Alice (played by Nicole Kidman), had considered the possibility of having an affair with a stranger they met during a previous vacation. Feelings of jealousy and resentment give him a reason—-or rather, an excuse—-to deviate from his faithful routine and see if he could get lucky.
Eyes Wide Shut is an outlandish exploration of marital infidelity and the (exaggerated) consequences it could entail. Sex is a key ingredient. Foreplay and beyond are explicitly displayed, but in rather tasteful, and at times ceremonial manner. Nudity and erotic scenes are a dime a dozen, but in my opinion, the film is by no means an erotic thriller, although it was marketed as such.
It would be more appropriate to call it a psycho-sexual drama. Themes relating to sex, intimacy, jealousy, trust, deceit and fidelity are copiously poured all throughout. The film is rich with mind-boggling, almost surreal instances, all part of a sex-driven narrative and meticulously engineered plot, which would have been rendered insufficient had it not been for Kubrick’s fastidious, all-encompassing storytelling.
Stanley Kubrick truly was a master of the mise en scene. It is as if he nitpicked on every detail for every scene, as if he crafted everything with his bare hands so that each scene would have the power to fascinate. From the lights and the movement of the people at the party the couple attended; to how the couple’s room was lit and how Bill Harford would fondle his wife; down to the robes, masks, inhibited dialogue, blocking, and movements of the participants of the ceremonial sex orgy at the mansion, and the mesmeric musical score—-everything was set to render viewers speechless.
Eyes Wide Shut garnered mixed reviews from critics but I would have to say that Stanley Kubrick’s farewell piece was marvelously, if not perfectly, executed. I wouldn’t recommend it for younger viewers but I would recommend it to a mature and sensible adult who understands—-and would want to understand—-what methodical filmmaking is about.
If you haven’t seen the film, here’s the trailer to get you started: