Sunday, May 25, 2014

Eyes Wide Shut review

I'm just going to get this out of the way right now, this is not the kind of movie you want to watch with your mother. Stanley Kubrick is a universally renowned cinematic genius. Practically everyone acknowledges that the guy is seriously good at making movies. Whether it's Barry Lyndon or Full Metal Jacket, his movies are always expertly crafted and very interesting. I count him as one of the best directors ever. He's made some of my all-time favorite films like 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Shining. The one film of his that really seems to polarize people is his last, Eyes Wide Shut. Whenever I'd talk to people who had seen this movie, they'd scoff and exclaim how it's a "bad" film and that Kubrick was off his rocker when he made it. I just recently watched Eyes Wide Shut and I can honestly say it is in no way his worst film. Nor is it a "bad" film. I can see why people wouldn't like it though. It's about a New York doctor named Bill Harford (Tom Cruise). He lives a comfortable and happy existence with his wife Alice (Nicole Kidman) and young daughter (Madison Eginton). One night, Alice reveals to Bill that she once almost had an affair. She tells him that she was willing to give away everything, her family and job included, just to sleep with this man. Understandably shaken by all this, Bill goes off into the streets of NYC on a surreal journey of sex, exploring the deepest depths of the human soul. Sorry about the long synopsis, but I feel it's necessary to really understand what I'm talking about with this movie. So, as I was saying, I can understand why people didn't like Eyes Wide Shut. It's filled with some very uncomfortable scenes involving very uncomfortable, uh, physical acts of love. This can be a bit unnerving. Believe me, I was quite unnerved. At times it almost seemed like Stanley Kubrick was trying to make the audience as uncomfortable and scared as possible. There's one scene involving a very strange masquerade party that will probably be forever engraved in my mind. Although that's not entirely a bad thing. Kubrick is trying to make us really look at this movie and ask, "What exactly is right?". Is Cruise's protagonist a good person? Does he have morals? I'm not entirely sure. This film is really delving into the human mind and ultimately asking "What makes us tick?". People who have an immediate negative knee-jerk reaction to this movie obviously need to think about it more before making a final opinion. Right after I watched this movie, I didn't have an opinion. I still needed to digest it all. After some time, I've decided Eyes Wide Shut is a few hairs short of a great movie. It's incredibly well directed and well made. Kubrick's direction is as sharp as ever. He seems to be especially attracted to tracking shots of characters here, and it works very well. The guy always is doing interesting things with the camera. Few directors are as technically creative as Stanley Kubrick. He never really focuses on his actors in most of his films. He directs his actors spectacularly here. He lingers on the hurt confusion that envelops Tom Cruise's face. The look of jealousy and lust on Nicole Kidman. Eyes Wide Shut is a delicate machine. Kept well oiled and with all parts correctly working, it does it'd job wonderfully. If one little piece fell out of place, the movie would fall to shambles. Luckily, that is not the case. Many people give Tom Cruise a lot of crap for his personal life. Because of this, his acting is often overlooked. He's given some terrific performances in films like Born on the Fourth of July and Tropic Thunder. His performance here is no exception. His character, Dr. Bill Harford, is confused and scared. Things are going incredibly badly for him, and he's not even sure what's real anymore. Cruise's performance is subtle, and that's why it works so well. Nicole Kidman does a good job as well, playing equal parts jealous wife and loving and caring partner. This movie reminded me a lot of Martin Scorsese's 1985 film After Hours. It's a night-long odyssey into the dirty trenches of a hellish New York City. The difference being the protagonist in After Hours, played by Griffin Dunne, was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Cruise's character is deliberately plunging himself into this nightmare. That makes it almost all the more interesting, and all the more surreal. Eyes Wide Shut is the kind of film that will certainly get better with repeat viewings. I haven't even completely figured it out yet, but I know there's more to it that I didn't even pick up on yet. This isn't Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece, but I can tell it's exactly the movie he wanted to make. This is the vision as Kubrick imagined it. And that itself is enough to admire. Happy Viewing. If you haven't done so already, please follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at Thanks!

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