Eyes Wide Shut

Eyes Wide Shut

Wed April 26, 7:30 PM

Muenzinger Auditorium

After Dr. Bill Hartford's wife, Alice, admits to having sexual fantasies about a man she met, Bill becomes obsessed with having a sexual encounter. He discovers an underground sexual group and attends one of their meetings -- and quickly discovers that he is in over his head.

"Eyes Wide Shut," his first film since "Full Metal Jacket" 12 years ago, will have to stand as his final statement. It's as rich and strange and riveting as any journey he's taken us on, yet it's also familiar in a disquieting way. Kubrick's trademark lighting, his unique use of tracking shots, even the changing skin tones of the actors are instantly recognizable. So are the themes he chooses to explore.

"Fear and Desire" was Kubrick's debut feature film, and it could just as easily have served as the title of "Eyes Wide Shut." In the first scenes, he establishes an uneasy status quo between a long-married Manhattan couple, Bill and Alice Harford (played by Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman), only to puncture it with a series of startling temptations and revelations.

She dances with a seductive older stranger, he is pursued by two young models simultaneously, but neither Harford succumbs. They end up in bed together, discussing the evening's possibilities in a marijuana-enhanced haze.

A medical doctor, he thinks the pot is making her aggressive. She wonders how he feels when he examines his female patients, then proceeds to tell him of an event from their past that amounted to a kind of adultery. The admission leaves him visibly shaken, uncertain where their marriage is headed.

After an episode in which a heroin-cocaine overdose interrupts a lavish Christmas party, it seems that every scene could be taking place in a different room of the grotesquely expansive Overlook Hotel from Kubrick's 1980 film of "The Shining." No matter where Bill turns, he finds himself facing distortion, betrayal, violence and sexual hunger.

He leaves his wife to console an out-of-control woman whose father has just died, then finds himself accepting a hooker's invitation, getting pushed around by gay-bashers and visiting an old musician friend (Todd Field) whose latest gig involves playing piano for secret orgies. Bill decides to tag along, but he'll need a costume first, and even that gets terribly complicated.

Much of the picture suggests an erotic fever dream rather than a realistic story. Even the sidewalks of New York and the Christmas lights that twinkle in the background look stylized; so does the orgy, which resembles a satanic rite as staged in a Hammer horror film. But as Bill would have it, and his wife later demonstrates, "no dream is ever just a dream."

— John Hartl, The Seattle Times

Home | Full Site