Eyes Wide Shut review; Degrees of transgressions

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 Rossbachย 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.


eyes wide shut by js rossbach




12 Comments Add yours

  1. bloggeray says:

    I actually loved this film. The slow-burn you mentioned actually went with the psychological and sexual mood of the film. If the film’s pace had been faster, it might have felt even more confusing to the general audiences than it already does. There might have been complaints that Kubrick made a superficial film about sex without delving into it. Of course it’s only my way of seeing things and I might be very wrong.
    I also liked the character of the Russian props dealer. He epitomized the surreal feel of the film, behaving oddly at first then opening up (if I remember correctly).
    Ultimately though, I think the film is about marriage and the physically disconnect that comes as a result of a long, jaded relationship. And being Kubrick’s final film, it is indeed a must-watch for film buffs.
    Nice review, and the poster is awesome. ๐Ÿ™‚


  2. Keith says:

    Fabulous review. It’s a movie I’ve been intending to go back to. All I remember is that I didn’t have a good first impression. But that was such a long time ago. I really need to watch it again.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dani says:

    Nice review ‘jwforeva’. I had the same experience you had for the first time. But the more I watched it (and this is common with every Kubrick film I watch) the more I see things (even hidden things) the more I understand what Kubrick tries to tell. With each viewing it feels like you’re watching a different movie… it’s insane. Give it some time and rewatch it again, hopefully you’ll see what I mean.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jwforeva says:

      Thanks Dani!! Really?! Kubrick is an elusive genius isn’t he. I haven’t seen any of his other films, but that’s what people have said. I have an issue with the part where Tom Cruise’s friend in the movie has this long conversation with him telling him its all a hoax…it took the power away from the mysterious rituals. I mean he could be lying but still seems like a silly scene.


  4. Lovely write-up JW. Even though this film confuses and befuddles me as I try to figure out its layers, I really love it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jwforeva says:

      It’s very mysterious. Haha thanks ๐Ÿ™‚ But I don’t even think I know the layers of meaning, I’m just making meaning of whatever I can find lol. What do you think the film’s actually about?


  5. Matt says:

    I’ve been on a Kubrick kick lately so maybe this one will be next. I somehow missed this one when it came out probably because of all the underwhelming reviews it got.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jwforeva says:

      I’d recommend it coz it’s the only Kubrick film I’ve seen hahah. What’s your fav kubrick film?


  6. Mark Hobin says:

    This has always been one of my favorites from 1999. It’s so haunting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jwforeva says:

      Cool ๐Ÿ™‚ It is. Especially the scene where Kubrick shoots the entire ritual, once in a while checking back in with Tom Cruise’s masked face. I wonder what he must have thought and till now am still wondering what’s up with the whole sacrifice thing. Do you think it’s real or a hoax as Tom’s character is led to believe.
      Definitely very intriguing.


  7. never seen that poster before, it’s a belter! Good find! Love this movie to bits…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jwforeva says:

      It is! Just love alternative poster art ๐Ÿ™‚


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s