'90s Movie Month: "Eyes Wide Shut" Review

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In Stanley Kubrick’s final film, a doctor, played by Tom Cruise, finds himself seeking an extra-marital sexual encounter after his wife mocks him for not sharing his fantasies with her. His frustrations lead him to an underground secret society.
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'90s Movie Month: "Eyes Wide Shut" Review

Rating: R (Sexual content, nudity, language)
Length: 159 min
Release Date: July 16, 1999
Directed by: Stanley Kubrick
Genre: Drama/Mystery/Thriller

"Eyes Wide Shut" is a classic piece of cinema that stars the iconic Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. Both performers were in their prime at the time of filming, and the film remains one of the most memorable items in their respective resumes. "Eyes Wide Shut" follows Dr. William Harford, a successful doctor who works in the heart of New York City. William, portrayed by Tom Cruise, seems to have it all together. He has a gorgeous and intelligent wife named Alice who works as an art curator in the city and somehow finds time to help their daughter with her homework. William, the ultimate family man, couldn't be more assured of his love for his family and his wife's love for him.

Unfortunately for William, his life is about to be turned on its head. Alice, portrayed by Nicole Kidman, indulges in marijuana one night only to reveal to her husband that she once almost had an affair. William is shocked and his entire perspective on his marriage and his wife falls into question. The experience leads him to pursue a string of meaningless sexual encounters that fail to satisfy his quest for fulfillment and revenge for his wife's near unfaithfulness. Faced with the reality that he has now acted on the very thing he was angry at his wife for contemplating, he delves further into the underworld of the New York elite and discovers a world of hidden passions and intrigue.

William ultimately stumbles upon a highly exclusive club of New York's finest men and women. Club members wear hooded cloaks and masks to conceal their identity, ensuring their indulgences will remain secret from other fellow members, and especially from the people they are accountable to in their normal lives. William is quickly pulled into the club's decadent world, but he soon discovers he has bitten off more than he can chew. What began as a guilty quest for self-fulfillment quickly turns into a deadly game of intrigue and passion. William finds not only his marriage threatened but also the safety of his entire family as well.

"Eyes Wide Shut" is a riveting film with a truly unique storyline that bends the framework of traditional cinema. The cinematography is decadent and lush, reminiscent of such visual masterpieces as "Interview with the Vampire" and "Vanity Fair." William's bright and normal everyday life contrasts visually with his forays into a dark underworld of lust and anonymous affairs. The club itself is filled with dark-crimson hues, which as a visual metaphor for the world of the passions and ego, juxtapose with the world of reason and intellect that William inhabits in his working life.

Everything is not as it seems in "Eyes Wide Shut," and as soon as viewers think they have the plot figured out, a twist comes along that turns everything upside down. Tom Cruise does a masterful job of portraying William, and his transition from a naïve and self-assured family man to someone who questions everything and blurs the lines of morality that were once so clear to him. Nicole Kidman holds her own as Alice, a character who is not quite as innocent and unassuming as she seems. Alice longs to feel appreciated by her husband and to challenge his misconception that she will always be there for him regardless of what he does. The tension between the couple is palpable, even as they go their separate ways during a portion of the film.

"Eyes Wide Shut" is a lavish fantasy filled with drama, shocking twists, and enough gorgeous imagery to earn its place as a modern classic. The writing is flawless and the actors deliver their lines with pitch-perfect performances and impeccable timing. "Eyes Wide Shut" was the last film from cinematic, legendary director Stanley Kubrick. The film blends overt drama with subtlety and nuance, making it a balanced and enjoyable masterpiece. The costume design and elegant music are worth noting as they make "Eyes Wide Shut" a visual and aural feast without going overboard and detracting from the tension of the story.

Although "Eyes Wide Shut" came out in 1999, it remains one of the most scandalous films to date and undoubtedly appeals to a modern audience. The storytelling is effortless, and the characters are both relatable and fascinating. Kidman and Cruise carry the film with their superior performances, and fans of both actors will relish this gem of a movie. "Eyes Wide Shut" is a must see for anyone who loves visual dramas with all the style and luxury of a period piece and the edgy plot of a modern drama.

Rating: 3 out of 5