Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 10/10

Great looking, complex story

Story is too complex, Kidman & Cruise in over their heads

Movie Info

Movie Name: Eyes Wide Shut

Studio: Warner Bros.

Genre(s): Drama/Mystery/Suspense

Release Date(s): July 16, 1999

MPAA Rating: R


Did Stanley say we were rolling or not?

Alice Hartford (Nicole Kidman) and Bill Hartford (Tom Cruise) seem to be the perfect husband and wife.  They have a happy family and live among the upper crust in New York City.  Things behind closed doors aren’t always as they seem.  After an argument about what women want from men, Bill meets with a friend.  He learns about a party in a large countryside house.  What   he sees there could threaten everything he has.

Eyes Wide Shut was the last film of the master filmmaker Stanley Kubrick and was released after his death.  A loose adaptation of the 1926 book Dream Story by Arthur Schnitzler, the movie was met with mostly positive reviews but also reviews that were highly critical of the film and the married costars Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.  The film also is considered one of the longest shoots with fifteen months of shooting.

Kubrick is always a big question and this film didn’t help to clear up his critics who sometimes took exception to his subjects and style.  Todd Fields (the director who has an acting role in this movie as the piano player Nick Nightingale) and R. Lee Ermey (from Kubrick’s classic Full Metal Jacket) even got in arguments in the press on whether Kubrick himself liked the movie.


But how will anyone see my signature Tom Cruise smile behind this mask?

The movie looks fantastic with so many of Kubrick’s signature shots.  Long tracking shots and interesting lightings help make the movie keep his style.  The setting of Christmas allows some interesting use of lights and also provides a nice contrast for the characters that are a happy family on one side but involved in all sorts of crazy sexual things through the course of the story.

The highlight and most “Kubrick” part of this movie has to be the sex party.  It also had controversy with an American release involving digitized people blocking out a lot of the “action” to get the R-Rating.  The Venetian masks and the very play-like dialogue in this segment also help create a really creepy, suspenseful feel.  Not only is Cruise’s character seeing things he shouldn’t be seeing, but the viewer also feels uncomfortable with him.


Dammit…Every orgy I attend ends up like this!

Part of the problem with Eyes Wide Shut is Cruise and Kidman.  They seem really miscast to carry a movie heavy on dialogue and with extremely long scenes.  I’ve seen movies that I’ve liked both of their acting (Cruise in Magnolia and Kidman in To Die For in particularly), but it feels like they really were struggling with this story and what they were supposed to be feeling/expressing.  There scenes together for the most part feel a bit wooden and helped lend to the rumor of the manufactured romance.

Eyes Wide Shut is one of those movies you can’t stop debating.  It is hard to understand and it either could be genius or crap depending on how you look at it.  It is slow paced and deliberate.  It feels like a wind-up for something that never happens, but that also is part of the plot/story (Cruise and Kidman never actually do have sex).  It is a shame that Kubrick wasn’t around to defend or express his goals when the movie was released, but there is a good chance he wouldn’t do it anyway.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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