31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
Mesmerizing in its emotional complexity,
This review is from: Eyes Wide Shut [DVD]  (DVD)
I don't think it's possible to truly explain Eyes Wide Shut to anyone who hasn't seen it. For some, it will be too darn weird, far too lengthy, and too abstract and open-ended to be enjoyable. Others, however, will find themselves as fascinated as I was while watching this extraordinary film, especially after it transforms itself into something totally unexpected about midway through. There is a sort of surreal atmosphere around everything that happens here, although I must say I sensed no dreamlike qualities to any parts of it. I really didn't know what to expect going in - besides a bunch of nudity and the whole erotic Cruise-Kidman relationship - but that was a good thing (especially since the movie isn't really about those things). Eyes Wide Shut is so unusual that it's probably better for the viewer to go in with no expectations whatsoever.
I came to this film for Nicole Kidman, just as many probably came to it for Cruise. It's really a Tom Cruise feature, I have to say, with Kidman scoring a lot less screen time than I expected. Now, I love Nicole Kidman, and I was mesmerized by this entire movie, but I don't think this was one of Kidman's better performances. Maybe it's just the fact that racy language coming out of her mouth just doesn't sit right with me, but I was definitely uncomfortable watching Kidman work her way through the more emotional scenes (which seemed a little overdramatic). Cruise, for his part, is great, and the whole supporting cast (including Leelee Sobieski in a small but scintillating role) is excellent.
Bill and Alice Harford have a complex relationship. Following a strange party which finds them each flirting with other people, Alice starts a discussion that ends with her recounting her fantasies about another man. Bill, who sits there with a blank look on his face throughout the uncomfortable scene, then gets called away to the home of a patient who has just died. As you might expect, images of his wife with another man just keep running through his mind, and the unexpected advances of his dead patient's daughter sort of tip his precarious grip on reality a little too close to the edge. Opportunity begins to become temptation, and he moves ever closer to infidelity. Just when you think you have the movie figured out, though, it runs off like the Road Runner escaping the grasping hands of Wile E. Coyote. Bill finds his way to an exclusive, secretive party of costumed men and women doing things that are far removed from the morality of the everyday world. The whole scene is just amazingly surreal and weird - yet certainly exciting and stimulating. The things Bill witnesses at this party set the stage for the rest of the film. This is as much as I want to say about the plot, but I must emphasize just how multi-layered the story is. It's a brilliantly complicated film that touches all sorts of emotional buttons.
In the end, Eyes Wide Shut is a movie about relationships, particularly marriage, with infidelity and jealousy standing as the touchstones of Kubrick's elaborate exploration of the most intense and vulnerable of emotions. People wear all sorts of emotional masks, they indulge in fantasies and sometimes give in to temptation, and Eyes Wide Shut plays extremely well on these themes. Kubrick really weaves all sorts of disparate elements together in the most mesmerizing of ways. I can certainly understand why some people just don't like the movie at all, though. Daring, complex, surreal, intellectual, visionary motion pictures usually divide critics and viewers, inspiring either love or hate. I can barely begin to do the movie justice here, but I personally feel that this is a brilliant motion picture that will garner more and more critical acclaim over time.