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Eyes Wide Shut

January 14th, 2019   |   Updated on March 30th, 2019

A New York City doctor 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.

A doctor becomes obsessed with having a sexual encounter after his wife admits to having sexual fantasies about a man she met and chastising him for dishonesty in not admitting to his own fantasies. This sets him off into unfulfilled encounters with a dead patient’s daughter and a hooker.

But when he visits a nightclub, where a pianist friend Nick Nightingale is playing, he learns about a secret sexual group and decides to attend one of their congregations. However, he quickly learns he is in well over his head and finds he and his family are threatened.

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Movie Reviews: “Eyes Wide Shut

Movie Review: Los Angeles Times

The combination of sex and death (have I got your attention yet?) has always tantalized artists, especially as they age, and, if “Eyes Wide Shut” is any indication, most especially Stanley Kubrick.

Far from the hot date-night movie the racy Warner Bros. campaign would have you expect, Kubrick’s last film, completed just before his death and starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman as a married couple who stumble onto the edge of a terrible moral abyss, is a strange, somber and troubling meditation on jealousy, obsession and (yes) sex and death. More European than Hollywood in tone, it’s half brilliant, half banal, but always the work of a master director whose output has gotten increasingly distant and self-involved over the years–and not always to our benefit.

After turning out seven features in the first decade of his career, Kubrick directed only six more times in his final 35 years, and his last films, including costume drama “Barry Lyndon,” horror film “The Shining” and war movie “Full Metal Jacket,” have all been determinedly off the beat of genre expectations.

Written by Kubrick and veteran screenwriter Frederic Raphael (“Darling,” “Two for the Road”), “Eyes Wide Shut” follows that pattern and, like those predecessors, makes its strongest impression not with dialogue but with virtuoso visual work. Despite all the time spent on the script (the numberless rewrites and rehearsals began three years ago), whenever the film has to depend on the written word for its effects the results tend to be unconvincing.

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Movie Review: Washington Post

But the movie that Kubrick has erected on this tiny foundation turns out to be gigantic, misguided, cold and idiotic, as well as obvious. Dreary today has been substituted for the art nouveau then, dirty New York (actually constructed on a back lot) for spidery Vienna, and the flavorlessly WASP Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman for the Jewish doctor und his vife.

It is instructive to briefly consider the difference between the film’s marketing and the film itself. For one thing, the marketing features Kidman, where the film itself hardly does (though by far the more accomplished performer, she’s a minor character in her husband’s crackpot odyssey). Yet the imagery of her that has showed up on magazine covers hither, thither and yon is sublimely potent: It has a sense of play, of tease, of possibility, of sweaty rhythm. One sees in the lines of her muscly stomach not just beauty, but more intriguingly the tension of sexual repression, yearning to be released as if her pelvis gotta move, gotta dance. Her eyes – especially on the cover of Rolling Stone – are wise, knowing, confident, intriguing. She’s a Kabuki Circe with Frank Sinatra’s crushed fedora strategically placed for maximum suggestibility. She’s Helen of Troy, the young Guinevere, Brandi Chastain, all feminine eros morphed into a kind of meta-goddess.

Yet Kubrick, as it turns out, strips her of her goddesshood in the early going, in a few nude scenes that are anti-erotic: the kind of casual, banal nudity that man and wife become accustomed to. He’s much more interested in letting Tom Cruise act. Now whoever told him Tom Cruise could act? Or did he not care? This, after all, is the gentleman who has starred the likes of Gary Lockwood, Keir Dullea, Ryan O’Neal and Matthew Modine in his films. Clearly, he prefers obedience to the vision to contribution to the vision.

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Movie Review: CNN.com

From a critical standpoint, the late, great Stanley Kubrick can’t lose. To suggest that one of his films is anything less than a masterpiece or that the man himself was even a brick short of unadulterated genius means setting yourself up for ridicule as a philistine.

Even casual moviegoers who wouldn’t know a wide-angle lens from a box of Milk Duds are ready to pipe up and say nobody can touch Kubrick. It’s been pounded into their heads for so long, there’s no point in suggesting otherwise.

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