Eyes Wide Shut (1999) Film Review


Dr William Harford (Tom Cruise) is highly respected in New York, has a beautiful wife, Alice (Nicole Kidman) and a rarely seen child. But when, stoned, she over-reacts to his comments and then admits that she was once attracted to someone else, his life goes off the rails. He stumbles into a world of sexuality and intrigue, culminating in sneaking in to a massive, mysterious sex-party/weirdo cult event. After being discovered, he tries to find out more but realises that his life and his family may be in danger.

I recall seeing this at the cinema back when it was first released. It was exciting – a new Kubrick, with the golden couple that was our Nic and her superstar husband, Tom. Even those who perhaps didn’t really love Tom or Nic could surely get something out of a Kubrick masterpiece? All I remembered prior to this viewing was a lot of nude women and men in masks and cloaks, and a very annoying sound track consisting of two notes on a piano. And hating it, thinking it was terrible and a waste of time. Sometimes, it is not worth revisiting bad films.

There was so little to enjoy about this film. The writing was awful; the conversations stilted and unrealistic, the sense of danger came from nowhere. I did not believe any of the characters would behave as they did. What’s more, I couldn’t understand why, if William was so keen on discovering more, he would suddenly stop looking when he did. The acting was terrible, especially Nicole Kidman’s portrayal of drunken and/or stoned sexuality that was almost painful to watch. The film runs for 159 minutes, and I think about at least half of that were long, static shots of people’s faces as they barely react to things. Kubrick was wonderful, but obviously, not always.

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