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|Eyes Wide Shut
This much awaited tale of marital jealously and its sometimes bizarre consequences represents the last work Stanley Kubrick.
Dr William and Alice Hartford (Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman) live an idyllic existence sharing their comfortable Manhattan apartment with their seven-year-old daughter, Helena. The past nine years of marriage appear to have been devoted and faithful, neither questioning this self-evident fact until an annual Christmas do at a patient's apartment presents each with separate opportunities for infidelity.
Shortly after this event in an intense exchange William smugly declares that he has never doubted his wife's faithfulness, and in reply she confides a brief desire for a passing stranger: a desire for which she would have sacrificed everything.
Movie Poster, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman in Eyes Wide Shut
|Bill's shock is disturbed by a call to attend a patient. And it is here that, fuelled by his wife's confession, his slide into decadence and irresponsibility begins...
In the ensuing hours we are taken on an intriguing journey as we follow Bill deeper and deeper into his "adventure". Meanwhile Alice the housewife stays at home and wonders what he is up to. Not used to such excitement he fails to protect himself properly and as a result awful things may (or may not) happen.
Nicole Kidman in Eyes Wide Shut
|The film is much laboured over and not surprisingly looks sumptuous. The attention to detail is superb, but then we expect little less from a well-produced art film. Nicole Kidman is rivetting, not only for her beauty (which seems to improve with age) but her performance.
|Strangely, her character Alice spends most of the film in extreme states: drunk, stoned, hysterical and distressed. Kubrick doesn't seem quite sure what to do with his female characters, and Kidman does her best to flesh out Alice but ultimately she remains a mystery. I found myself doubting the sincerity of her stranger fantasy, and wondered if she was merely pointing out that maybe her husband didn't know her as well as he thought he did.
|It's also hard to believe that a woman of her charm had not met a would-be seducer before; god knows, the woods are full of them. There is also an obvious and increasingly irritating piano piece that gets a little overworked: I was particularly pleased to see the cinema had decided to treat us to an encore in the lobby. A little subtley goes a long way.
Tom Cruise in Eyes Wide Shut
|I doubt the film will please all, but it is undoubtedly interesting. I liked it more once I had rolled it around a little, but still found it less than I would expect and certainly less than I would expect from Kubrick. I was particularly intrigued by the New York exteriors, and wondered if he had gone against his code and shot outside of England for once (I'm still not sure, but I don't think so).
The idea of street after street of Greenwich Village constructed in Pinewood Studios was intriguing to say the least. Unfortunately, my admiration for the set distracted me more than once.
I look forward to a second viewing.