‘Eyes Wide Shit’?

Some people believe that Stanley Kubrick faked the Apollo Moon landings which is, of course, total bollocks because if you watch ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ (1999) you realise the guy couldn’t even fake an orgasm.

From the get-go it’s blindingly obvious that Kubrick is trying to capture the glimmering passion of Ophul’s ‘Madame De…’ (1953) with Kidman even flirting with someone from the “De Sica’s-R-us” impersonator store, except with Tom Cruise being all alone at Christmas and separated from his family whilst baddies are after him the director actually comes much closer to inadvertently remaking ‘Home Alone’ (1990) instead except without any of that film’s intellectual rigour or depth concerning familial bonds.

The film begins with a devastating and startling revelation Stanley has for the audience that — SHOCK… HORROR! — women like sex. Gasp! Well, thanks for that Stanley. I had no idea! And the movie just gets sillier, and more inane, from there on.

At best it’s indulgent and objectionable; at worst it’s unintentionally funny to the point of inducing mockery and laughs. For example: take the orgy, which might be the most unintentionally hilarious sex-scene put to film where we can feel Kubrick reaching for artistic provocation but actually landing somewhere in ‘Confessions of a Window Cleaner’ territory in terms of saucy silliness. Oh, and someone needed to tell that keyboard player they hired that his synth sounds are shit and that he’s obviously being a lazy fucker and using pre-sets.

Ah, but is this where Kubrick’s renowned “cleverness” comes in? This orgy happens at the exact mid-point of the film, acting as a sort of frictionless pivot the entire film hangs suspended from. All cool and groovy but what does it mean? Secret societies? Has Kubrick been speed-reading Eco’s ‘Foucault’s Pendulum’ and decided to cram the Illuminati, theosophy, the Templars and maybe even the RSCPA into all this? The answer is — who cares! And, if so, he’s obviously missed the fact that Eco’s book was a spoof. Which is what this film possibly needed to be.

Indeed, the entire itself film is like a conspiracy theory — infantile and hermetic. Also, it’s not secret societies Kubrick seems scared of but sex itself making the entire film feel remarkably juvenile. Maybe the movie needed to be directed by someone more sexually mature than Kubrick. Nora Ephron for example (and I’m deadly serious about that).

As has been noted elsewhere, the only genuinely erotic sex scene in any of Kubrick’s movies is the one between the two aircraft at the start of ‘Dr Strangelove’… and Kubrick didn’t even shoot that one himself. This could explain why, instead of any trace of eroticism, ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ is over two and a half hours of grinding, painful sexual inertia, like dry-humping a two-foot block of pumice.

And what is Kubrick saying in this film? Is it about sex? Jealousy? Infidelity? Marriage? All that would be fine if it wasn’t for the fact that that’s what almost EVERY SINGLE MOVIE EVER MADE before hand in the history of cinema has been about! Welcome to the party Stanley!

Are there any positives? For me, not really. The movie is too boring to be grabbed by and too silly to take seriously. Sure, all the pretty lights are nice and shiny although it does give the feeling that there’s a sentient Christmas tree constantly and menacingly stalking Tom Cruise in the background the entire time and might leap out at him at any time and attack him.

I also hated Kidman’s character in this film, and I mean really hated her. She comes across as nasty, mean, manipulative and shallow and I can’t figure out if that’s intentional or not. Is she presented in this way simply to let the guy off the hook in terms of his sexual fantasies? And is he only having sexual fantasies as a form of revenge? That’s pretty immature. How the hell did anyone this idiotic, this stupid, manage to become a qualified doctor? I also do feel somewhat uncomfortable with the way the camera leers (and it does leer) over Kidman and all the other women in the film for that matter. I know they’re meant to be objectified but I just find it objectionable, and I’m a huge fan of Walerian Borowczyk and Alain Robbe-Grillet so am no prude in terms of naughtiness, but naughtiness is hard to pull off (pun intended) and demands a certain dedicated skill.

Anyway, if their marriage is in such a state, if each one of them feels so trapped in a screaming hell of sexual frustration then why not… I don’t know, become swingers or go to an orgy and explore their sexuality together as a married couple? Anything else other than this constant moaning and whining and sexual self-flagellation. Hook up with The Krankies and have a foursome for Christ’s sake and then we can all watch a different movie instead.




Comedy writer, radio producer and director of large scale audio features.

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Colin Edwards

Colin Edwards

Comedy writer, radio producer and director of large scale audio features.

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