Eyes Wide Shut (1999): Stanley Kubrick's Psychedelic Masterpiece starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman

Kubrick's treatise on fidelity and marriage

Featured in IMDb Critic Reviews 

eyes wide shut, directed by stanley kubrick, starring tom cruise, nicole kidman, erotic film poster
Eyes Wide Shut (1999) By Stanley Kubrick
Our Rating: 10.0
IMDb Ratings: 7.2
Genre: Drama Mystery Thriller
CastTom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Todd Field
Country: UK | USA
Language: English
Runtime: 159 min

Summary: A New York City doctor, who is married to an art curator, pushes himself on a harrowing and dangerous night-long odyssey of sexual and moral discovery after his wife admits that she once almost cheated on him.

Eyes Wide Shut was the very last film directed by legendary American movie maker Stanley Kubrick. Kubrick was unarguably Anglo-American Cinema's most potent reply to the 'Fellinis', the 'Bunuels', the 'Bergmans', the 'Kurosawas', the 'Rays', and the 'Tarkovskys' of the world. Ubiquitously acclaimed for his idiosyncratic style and inexorable yearning for perfection, Kubrick had  held millions of viewers worldwide in a transfixion through his masterful works for well over four decades. Eyes Wide ShutKubrick's swansong that he also proclaimed to be his finest  piece of workrepresents cinema at its most vivid and innovative. Vintage Kubrick, Eyes Wide shut is a psychedelic pleasure that crosses genres, serving to be an elixir for the sore eyes and a panacea for the perturbed souls. Eyes Wide Shut,  like most of Kubrick's avant-garde works,  is open to speculation and can be interpreted in different ways, purely based on the viewer's own understanding. The movie indulges the viewers at different levels by posing a repertoire of questions pertaining to the complexities associated with the human psyche, and while the key to most of them lies with the viewers themselves they are still forced to delve deep and reach the sequestered corners of their psyche, where it is virtually impossible to tell the real from the surreal and fathom their true meaning.  

Nicole Kidman as Alice Harford and Tom Cruise as Dr. William 'Bill' Harford in Eyes Wide Shut, getting stoned, erotic reel life scene between real life couple, Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise in Eyes Wide Shut
Despite being rife with elements of nudity, Eyes Wide Shut should not be stigmatized or snubbed on the account of eroticism that it offers to the viewer. On the contrary, it should be savored as a highly thought-provoking aesthetic work of cinema. Eyes Wide Shut succeeds in having a tremendous impact on the intellect as well as the viscera by asking incessant questions of the viewer, simultaneously haunting his thoughts and refining his imagination. It's quite sad that the movie failed miserably at the time of its release because of poor marketing and Kubrick's untimely demise.  Eyes Wide Shut revolves around a New York based doctor who gets perplexed by his wife's sudden confession of infidelity. Consequently, his chagrin and dudgeon drives him into a night of debauchery where he gets a lesson on sexual and moral enlightenment, which inexplicably helps him save the incipient marital crisis. 

Eyes Wide Shut's, Orgy Sequence, Todd Field as Nick Nightingale, playing piano blindfolded, Directed by Stanley Kubrick
A Still from Eyes Wide Shut's Infamous Orgy Scene
Larry Smith's cinematography is awe-inspiring to say the least and is well complimented by Jocelyn Pook's music. In Eyes Wide Shut, Kubrick once again keep up with his tradition of blending the original music with classical tracks. The hypnotic piano musicthe recurring second movement of György Ligeti's classic piano cycle "Musica ricercata"that makes Eyes Wide Shut a truly unforgettable experience; the music keeps playing in one's head long after the movie is over.  The orgy sequence, which is often treated with utter contempt, is undoubtedly one of the most vivid scenes ever visualized or choreographed in American Cinema. The very scene is highly reminiscent of the artistic sequences  depicted in Fellini's Satyricon and Tarkovsky's Andrei Rublev. In fact, Kubrick's brilliant showmanship makes it even more sensual. Tom Cruise is absolutely brilliant and convincing in the challenging portrayal of Dr. Harford, and succeeds in having an enormous impact on the viewers by evoking in them a strong sense of empathy. The nocturnal odyssey, being rife with debauchery and decadence, ironically serves as a lesson of moral reformation. Nicole Kidman is ravishingly scintillating in her portrayal. The couple incredibly succeeds in mirroring their real life chemistry and tension on screen. 

Tom Cruise as Dr. William 'Bill' Harford arrives at the orgy, wearing a mask and a hood, directed by Stanley Kubrick
A Still from Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut
Overall, Eyes Wide Shut serves to be an experience of a lifetime. Cinema seldom gets any better. Eyes Wide Shut a work of an artistic genius on a creative crusade trying to prove a point to none but himself. This critic rates Eyes Wide Shut among his favorite works of cinema along with with the likes of Citizen Kane (1941), Stalker (1979), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Solyaris (1972), Ran (1985), and Dersu Uzala (1975). Eyes Wide Shut can only be relished by getting rid of bigotry, conservatism and prejudice. The movie is a delectable feast and a must watch for those who understand and appreciate avant-garde, auteur-driven, thought-provoking cinema.

Readers, please feel free to share your opinion by leaving your comments. As always your feedback is highly appreciated!  

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  1. Man, I must say you write really well! I wish people here in the US could also afford such a verbiage. You have won yourself an ardent fan.

    1. Thanks mate for those kind words! I really appreciate it :P

  2. Bhavana UpadhyayaMay 31, 2012 at 8:31 AM

    So true, Murtaza!!! The movie had me turned all around...I was so thrown ut of my usual ways of thinking and it haunted me for days together. You have written a great review...very well penned!

  3. Thanks Bhavana foe sharing your valuable thoughts! I am glad to hear that you have a liking for Kubrick's style of movie-making. If you liked Eyes Wide Shut then you will probably like his other works such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Full Metal Jacket, A Clockwork Orange, Shining, AI (Kubrick's dream project that was eventually completed by Steven Spielberg), etc. A few other movies that I would recommend is The Ninth Gate by Roman Polanski, The Ghost Writer also by Roman Polanski, and Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. 

  4. Sounds like an interesting movie to watch. Will download it soon :)

  5. Yeah, it is undoubtedly... would love to hear from you once you watch it!!! :-)

  6. One of my favorite Kubrick movie. Your review does justice to this under-rated masterpiece.

  7. Very nice review. I find this movie and The Shining to be my favorite Kubrick pictures because every time I watch them, it feels different.

  8. Well, I couldn't have agreed more. Eyes Wide Shut and The Shining (even 2001: A Space Odyssey) indeed can be watched again and again with each viewing offering a completely different perspective. It's incredible but then that's exactly what we expect from great artists :-)

  9. I am glad that you liked it... Eyes Wide Shut despite being Kubrick's best work (as he himself stated) sadly still remains very underrated, primarily because of Kubrick's untimely death and poor marketing at the time of its release. But, I am sure that in due time it will succeed in attaining the iconic status that it deserves :-)

  10. Eyes Wide Shut is one of my favorite films and probably top 2 among Kubrick's films. It's a slow film but it drew me in from my first viewing over 12 years ago. The movie allows a lot of questions to be asked and the answer often remains a mystery even after multiple views. The movie ends on a very strange note. I love it!

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