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Eyes Wide Shut
By Ryan Mazie
July 29, 2010
When the first shot of a movie is of a nude Nicole Kidman in nothing but high heels, you know you are in for a surreal, wild ride that only legendary director Stanley Kubrick could deliver. Being a fan of Kubrick’s films, Eyes Wide Shut is one I never got around to for one reason or another, maybe due to the heavy topic of marriage. Only turning an age that is legal to wed a couple months ago, the topics presented, which I will get to later, are certainly not relatable or directed to me, but that does not make them dull or uninteresting, because at the base is carnal desire. Starring the Hollywood power couple at the time, blockbuster gun-toting Tom Cruise and Australian arthouse babe Nicole Kidman, Eyes Wide Shut, was the heavily guarded, buzzed-about film that sadly turned out to be Kubrick’s last opus. Called everything from an erotic thriller to a dramatic mystery with romance and everything in between, Eyes Wide Shut is a shocking eye-opener where Kubrick gets his actors to bare their emotions almost as much as their bodies.
In the age of camera-phones, Internet, and prevalent paparazzi, it was amazing that Kubrick was able to keep Eyes Wide Shut from the prying eyes of the public during its famously long 400 day shoot (even James Cameron managed to keep his shooting schedule for Titanic under a year) on top of another year of post-production. I check this site and industry favorites like deadline.com to be spoiled with images and details of the latest buzz-worthy productions. While no one was really sure what the film was about, the studio kept the public puzzled even with the trailer – a dialogue-less display of sensual images of the stars over the Chris Isaak guitar-strumming “Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing,” which was surprisingly effective.
The buzz for the film only increased after Kubrick’s death a supposed four days after delivering the final cut to Warner Bros. However, a leak about the intense sexual nature of the film and of a prolonged orgy sequence wrongly placed the film into the category of erotic thriller. I would classify the film as a psychological drama. To compare to some of my favorites, the film borrows the adventurous sense of mystery and deceit from the Kubrick-esque Chinatown, mixed in with the serious marriage-reevaluation of Revolutionary Road, peppered with a bit of the sexiness and surreal nature of Mulholland Dr.
Eyes Wide Shut tells the almost coldly serious story of a professionally and socially successful sexy young married couple, on-and-off-screen, Dr. William "Bill" (Cruise) and Alice Hartford (Kidman). Nine years of marriage and a seven-year-old daughter (Madison Eginton) later, they are bored and find themselves in a weed-induced battle-of-the-sexes conversation over love and sex from both genders' points of view. During the long scene, Alice reveals a hidden year-old fantasy of her giving everything up for a Naval Officer she had briefly encountered on a trip to Cape May. The stinging surprise crushes Bill’s ego, sending him on a downward-spiraling sexual awakening throughout a surreal New York City where every girl he encounters willingly spreads her legs open for him.