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STANLEY KUBRICK'S PARANOIAC FILM NOIR OF 'EYES WIDE SHUT'

Tom Cruise in Stanley Kubrick's EYES WIDE SHUT Year: 1999 Rating: ***1/2

Some films seem created to be despised and misunderstood... Misunderspised is not a word but fits the subliminally insane, intensely mellow and tortuously strange EYES WIDE SHUT that, too slow for a thriller and too tame for sheer outright sexual exploitation, is the final feature of legendary filmmaker Stanley Kubrick and stars Tom Cruise as a seemingly perfect Manhattan doctor with a seemingly contented wife in Nicole Kidman...

Beginning with a plush (yet secretly lush) party thrown by Cruise's millionaire "house calls" patient Sydney Pollock, who later partakes in a terrific finale monologue, both men playing a game of fancy red-velvet pool while discussing an earlier upscale, mansion-set, masquerade orgy that Cruise's Dr. William Harford character should not have attended...

Tom Cruise and Sydney Pollock close Stanley Kubrick's EYES WIDE SHUT

Throughout the same central night, as Cruise's Dr. Hartford wanders the streets (after being clumsily "seduced" by an otherwise passive Marie Richardson in a truly inspired sequence), backed by what sounds like ominous carnival music, Kubrick made a contrived English-shot Manhattan look dreamlike and surreal as the best, breeziest moments occur between Cruise and former med-school buddy turned dropout Nick Nightingale, played by (GROSS ANATOMY med-school dropout) Todd Field...

When Cruise and piano-playing Nightingale connect at that initial party... before their second more important meeting at a jazz club... there's an awkward silence followed by a terrific burst of laughter that displays the ultra-realistic spontaneity of a Kubrick feature: he doesn't make his actors suffer multiple takes for nothing, and is a Selector as well as Director since, within the long editing process, he'd prefer as many options as possible to choose from...

Tom Cruise covers familiar ground in EYES WIDE SHUT

Other scenes, however, fail to inhabit such keen, wry realism, perhaps on purpose, or maybe because some characters just aren't that intriguing, comparably, and there are plenty to choose from: But liken to Kubrick's greatest work, A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, our pivotal pawn basically survives throughout a yo-yo experience as the eventual downswing has the same inhabitants but herein cursed, from a fatal disease to death itself, providing a basic lesson of all Film Noir: don't stick your neck out too far where your head doesn't belong in the first place...

Meanwhile, covering every aspect of the Sexual Experience without actually experiencing much of anything beyond various shots of nudity filmed as commonplace... what the haunted doctor imagines about his wife and a would-be lover as told in Kidman's stoned first-act monologue centered on a man she'd once lusted upon for afar... Cruise's failed attempts at palpably vengeful fornication are what CHINATOWN is to that particular city...

Nicole Kidman opens up in EYES WIDE SHUT

It's possible Kubrick might have been purposefully torturing both his own cult following (who'd anticipated his next project for over a decade) and the mainstream Cruise/Kidman fans, ultimately making these EYES either despised or beloved, or somewhere lost within a convoluted, unexplained purgatory...

Ultimately summarized upon the realization that everything means nothing but the final blunt words uttered by Kidman, doing some last-minute colorful Christmas shopping, basically telling her husband (and audience) that what supposedly makes the world go round is really no big deal at all, despite the fact we just spent an extremely long time completely immersed around its dark, seedy, provocative outskirts.

Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidnman Christmas Shopping in EYES WIDE SHUT
Barry Lyndon and Kubrick assistant Leon Vatali from EYES WIDE SHUT
Tom Cruise in Stanley Kubrick's EYES WIDE SHUT orgy sequence
Tom Cruise in Stanley Kubrick's EYES WIDE SHUT
Tom Cruise in Stanley Kubrick's EYES WIDE SHUT
Tom Cruise in Stanley Kubrick's EYES WIDE SHUT with Todd Field
Tom Cruise in Stanley Kubrick's EYES WIDE SHUT with Todd Field
Tom Cruise in Stanley Kubrick's EYES WIDE SHUT
Marie Richardson in Stanley Kubrick's EYES WIDE SHUT

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