Merry Christmas Eve, all! I hope you all are having a wonderful time today. In honor of this most giving holiday, I present to you a film that continues to bear gifts with each subsequent viewing–Eyes Wide Shut.
Eyes Wide Shut, released in 1999, was Stanley Kubrick’s last film before his death. He truly went out at the top of his game, if I do say so myself. This film is at once real and surreal, making the viewer ponder, evaluate, and reevaluate every single scene. It is purely brilliant, and it is also set during the Christmas season. Christmas lights provide a blinding luminosity or an eerie glow in the background of nearly every scene of the film, making everything have a dream-like feeling, which is perfect for a film based on the idea that one’s dreams and fantasies can haunt, even ruin, your everyday life.
Dr. William (Tom Cruise) and Mrs. Alice Harford (Nicole Kidman) live in Manhattan, enjoying their wealthy lifestyle and wealthy friends. They attend a Christmas party at the home of one of Bill’s patients, both of them flirting with other people, which leads to a somewhat-heated, half-naked discussion later that evening while smoking pot. Alice admits to Bill that she thought about cheating on him once during said discussion, creating a very tense moment of Tom Cruise staring…straight into your soul. Just when she’s done admitting her feelings, the phone rings. That happens a lot in this film. Whenever there is a pivotal moment, the phone rings. It distracts Bill from what he just heard or saw. At first, the calls seem to be a sort of saving grace–they get him out of uncomfortable or dangerous situations. Later, the phone calls turn into an all-out nuisance to him, but they are what moves the plot along throughout the entire movie. (Genius!) I won’t give away the entirety of what happens next, but Bill does end up at a cult-like orgy and considers cheating on his wife several times throughout the course of one evening. He doesn’t do it though. In the end, both he and Alice love each other too much to be unfaithful.
Eyes Wide Shut is a true roller coaster of a film that tells what most people call a “psycho-sexual” story of one man’s night out–a night that brings him face to face with his morals and the reality of his marriage. From a line like “Don’t you think one of the charms of marriage is that it makes deception a necessity for both parties?” to the discussion between Alice and Bill at the end of the film in the middle of a crowded toy store right before Christmas: “I do love you and you know there is something very important we need to do as soon as possible.” “What’s that?” “Fuck,” this film will take you on a journey that you don’t want to miss.
Every time I watch Eyes Wide Shut, I discover new things about it that I never noticed in previous viewings–something that Stanley Kubrick was very, very good at in his films. If you want a true cinematic adventure that will make you laugh, gasp, cringe, and say “WTF?”–you need to watch Eyes Wide Shut, a true “Christmas classic.”