Eyes Wide Shut (1999) [5/5]

CRUISE. KIDMAN. KUBRICK.

A New York City doctor, who is married to an art curator, 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 movie hasn't frightened me this way in a long, long time. I couldn't sleep after I finished it... I was rolling around in bed until six in the morning. It really makes someone as (relatively) young as myself - I'm twenty-two years old - scared of the future, marriage, commitment, society. There are so many layers to this film, and different ways of interpreting it; if I wanted to spend hours analyzing each scene in the film, I probably could.

One interesting aspect of the film that I picked up on early was that it almost seemed as if Kubrick was trying to draw a parallel between filmmaking/performance art, and marriage. Watch Tom and Nicole in this film, two individuals that were married both on and off the set, both in character and out of character. Watch how they seem to compete with one another throughout the film - not just their characters, but they as actors... almost attempting to out-act one another, and rather incessantly.

I don't know, I think Stanley Kubrick might have had human beings figured out a little bit too well... he has to be one of the most brilliant men who ever lived, no hyperbole intended. But for the same reason, I almost feel sorry for him - that he had to exist on such an advanced plane of intelligence.

This is a film about many things; to me, it's about a man who is attempting to figure out what motivates human behavior, what the source of it all is... it's about a man who is searching desperately in all of the wrong places, in an attempt to better understand his wife and her thought processes. So in a sense, yes... it's about "mind control" (as many others have stated), but when people say that this film is merely about that, they're completely oversimplifying the film and all of its psychosexual undertones.

Furthermore, money seems to go hand in hand with sex in the world of Eyes Wide Shut (in our world). You can tell that they're/we're living in a society that is measured by differing levels of wealth, from the prostitute Domino, to Bill, and all the way up to the Red Cloak.

A fair warning, though... don't delve into this film without being prepared to think, think, think, for this is Kubrick at his most abstract, and much of the social commentary in the film is communicated through metaphor, such as the masks and costumes within the mansion.

*SPOILERS* If the masks were literal, rather than metaphorical, Mandy wouldn't have been able to tell who Bill was behind his mask, but because Kubrick wanted us to consider the masks in a more metaphorical sense, he allows for Mandy's character to seek out Bill as if he wasn't wearing a mask at all. *END OF SPOILERS*

Indeed, Eyes Wide Shut is also about the subjectivity of life and art, and how human beings are conditioned to perceive things in a certain way in order to ease survival (again, "mind control," but only in a sense). For instance, Ziegler's party and the ritual at the mansion are meant to parallel one another as well, one exemplifying the way in which our society attempts to repress our animalistic instincts, and the other exemplifying just the opposite.

I'm going to cut off my review here for now, but my mind is still spinning from this masterpiece. I'm certain that I'll be watching it again soon, and I'll most likely be able to piece together a more coherent review when I do.

My hat is off to you as per usual, Mr. Kubrick.

-Eli Hayes