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Eyes Wide Shut (2000): A Prescription for Watching This Movie

Eyes Wide Shut (Stanley Kubrick, 2000)

[originally posted 28Jun2001]

Cruise and Kidman in a kinda-sorta liplock on the movie poster.

Stanley did a bad, bad thing…
photo credit: impawards.com

The good news is: it’s not as absolutely downright awful as everyone said it was.

The bad news is: large parts of it are.

Nicole Kidman, naked, preparing to go out in a still from the film.

“What DOES one wear to an orgy, anyway?”
photo credit: derekwinnert.com

This is one of those prime examples of a two and a half hour film that begged to be about an hour less. The first hour of the film, including the infamous “orgy” scene (which is, for the record, about as erotic as a week-old scrod), is all setup for Tom Cruise’s bumbling attempt at mystery-solving in the second half. As such, the first hour is slow and could have been summarized in a sixth the time without us losing anything (Kubrick could have dropped the insanely out-of-date moralizing in the first hour as well, which would have freed us from the film’s unbearable last scene, as well). Then we could have gotten focused on the last hour, where Cruise

Two attendees at a masked ball attempt a kiss without removing their headgear in a still from the film.

“I can’t feel my lips!”
“Well, I can’t feel your lips, either. What are we drinking again?”
photo credit: The L Magazine

becomes obsessed with figuring out exactly who it is, and why, that wants him to stop asking questions about what he discovered in part one. This is good film, here. Take a guy who’s not used to figuring out mysteries and throw him int he middle of one to see what he does. It’s a time-tested plot, and it usually comes off well. It does here, too, and in the second hour of this film Cruise turns in his best screen footage since The Firm (surprise, surprise). Then we come to the last scene… and the whole thing falls apart. One would expect Kidman and Cruise to have at least SOME chemistry, them having been married and all, but the whole last scene sounds more like a first-time staged reading than a final film.

Not bad, but requires liberal use of the fast-forward button. **

 


The trailer that almost made me hate Gyorgy Ligeti.

About Robert "Goat" Beveridge

Media critic (amateur, semi-pro, and for one brief shining moment in 2000 pro) since 1986. Guy behind noise/powerelectronics band XTerminal (after many small stints in jazz, rock, and metal bands). Known for being tactless but honest.

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