Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Curiouser and curiouser.  The season's second profoundly provoca-
tive film-- after a certain "R"-rated cartoon-- stars Tom Cruise 
and Nicole Kidman as a good-looking, good-living, Central Park 
West-addressed married-couple-with-kid whose bedroom brain work 
(fear, jealousy, etc.) collides after a charged Christmas party.  
He gets accused of flirting, she reveals a sexual secret, and Hub-
by is thrown into a tailspin.  Cruise goes cruising, subsequently 
sending his character on a series of increasingly bizarre erotic 
encounters.  (Read: vignettes.)  Not all (any?) of it makes com-
plete, literal sense; nor is Stanley Kubrick's final film even re-
motely conventionally paced.  In agonizing scene after agonizing 
scene, the Master allows a numbing number of seconds to pass be-
tween lines of dialogue and expressed emotions.  (The result is a 
sort of slow-motion that the actors appear to be performing in.)  
Stunning (interior) sets help fill the void, as do the many eccen-
tric (and often outrageously comic) touches, be they the splayed 
figure of an overdosed hooker, a full-on fey hotel clerk, or a 
costume shop-turned-family bordello.  And, of course, there's the 
sex-- everywhere, in every seeming form, and out-coming in every 
possible consequence.  (Cheap thrillers be forewarned:  most of it 
ain't titillating.)  Gimme another viewing and a few more months 
and I might have it figgered out.  As it stands, the stars and 
sets and subject matter and glacial pacing at least appears to 
amaze the Friday-night crowd.  The packed 'plex we attended stayed 
whisper-quiet for two-and-a-half hours.  And *that's* something 
you don't see every day...  With Sydney Pollack, Todd Field, Marie 
Richardson, Rade Serbedzija, Vinessa Shaw, and Leelee Sobieski.  
Kubrick also co-wrote the screenplay with Frederic Raphael, from 
Arthur Schnitzler's novel "Traumnovelle."  (Rated "R"/159 min.)

Grade: B                                

Copyright 1999 Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros    

Originally posted to triangle.movies as MOVIE HELL: July 18, 1999.

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