Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut is an interesting watch. The film has a distinct duotone feel to it. The rudimentary and routine life in the city contrasts the eerie and ritualized sexual escapades. Bill (Tom Cruise) and his wife’s (Nicole Kidmann) sexual frustrations and repressions have to be veiled in secrecy; But these very fantasies are let loose later by choice or design. The world that Kubrick creates is like Freud’s vision manifested in art. Eyes Wide Shut offers us insights into the carnal dystopias that manifest and affect relationships. It’s not one of my favourites, nor is it near perfect in my view, but it certainly sticks and doesn’t go away easy.
For all it’s artistry, Eyes Wide Shut couldn’t have been any slower. I didn’t like the pacing of the film. It felt extremely deliberate. In rare cases, it actually worked. The melodramatic diction amped up the sexual tension. But do it for the whole film and this ‘dream-like’ slow burn has run its course into a rut. I hated the fact that I had to constantly endure the Dr.Bill and wife’s often laborious style of speaking. Scenes with these two should our eyes wide open. Instead, it might put some viewers in a daze. Whether or not it had the intended effect or had any meaningful purpose at all is up to each viewer’s own taste but this one was a little irritating for me. Even if the film were to construct a dreamy state-of-mind, slowing down the pace of all dialogue seems awfully rigid and misguided; If only it believed in the strength of its narrative enough to cut away the technical gaffes.
A point towards the climax of the film ends with a line by Bill Harford…
“And no dream is ever just a dream.”
As the film ended, I found myself a little uneasy at first. The climax the film achieved is one of a more mellow kind. Less explosive; More introspective. Eyes Wide Shut takes us for some wild and exhilirating rides only to bring us back to the very beginning; The relationship between Dr.Bill and his wife, Alice. The film leaves us somewhat marooned by the disconnected fragments of the sins that plague each character and the degrees of their respective transgressions. I found Tom Cruise’s character particularly complex on many levels. An unsettling conversation turns into a seed that plants itself into Bill Harford’s psyche. He conjures up the thought of his wife’s infidelity to validate his own acts. Eyes Wide Shut explores the sexually frustrated world that Bill and wife so agonizingly try to escape from; What they find after is perhaps more revealing than pleasurable.
There really isn’t much I can say more for fear of spoiling the movie but if you’re up for a real psychological drama, this one doesn’t disappoint. The beauty in Eyes Wide Shut is allowing for various interpretations without overextending itself.There is a certain degree of narcissism with regards to how our lives are built upon base desires. Kubrick breaks down the walls that hold his characters back to unmask the nature of their fantasies…and realities; Are we helplessly bound to the carnal instincts, constantly in flux between unmasking our inhibited facade and masking the objects of our desire? And as this beautiful poster by J.S Rossbach aptly suggests, can we be judged for that?
Rating: 8/10 Take this review with a pinch of salt because there are endless ways to interpret this bizarre yet sophisticated film.