Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
October 30, 2014 6:51 AM - Subscribe

THE SPIRIT OF 99 VIEWING CLUB - A New York doctor accuses his wife of infidelity, even just in her mind, and ends up on a series of strange, sexually threatening adventures through the city.

OKAY for the first time I'm going to recommend we all read an essay before going forward. Tim Kreider's "Introducing Sociology" was key in helping me appreciate this movie as the Lynchesque horror story of capitalism it is and not the erotic thriller it was marketed as. (Metafilter post)

DID EBERT LIKE IT? "Kubrick pays special attention to each individual scene. He makes a deliberate choice, I think, not to roll them together into an ongoing story, but to make each one a destination--to give each encounter the intensity of a dream..."

Eyes Wide Shut At 15
. The shooting script. The trailer, cut by Kubrick, which I think helped give people the wrong impression of what this movie is.

THE BEST: The lighting, the bloom-y christmas lights and hazy fills makes everything seem blurry and dreamlike and intimate. Every shot is a boudoir shot.

THE WORST: Arguable Cruise, if only cause he seems so pathetic next to Kidman's short, intense scenes.
posted by The Whelk (18 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Lynch is apparently a huge fan of the film, and I thik had it been marketed like Mullholland Drive it would've had a better reaction: people where pissed that the movie wasn't like a softcore porn about Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.

the tl;dr of the Kreider essay: Eyes Wide Shut is not about sex. It's about how sex is used as a distraction from the real horror, a ruling class that can do anything it wants and get away with murder and everyone is complicit in it.
posted by The Whelk at 7:03 AM on October 30, 2014 [4 favorites]

The movie shows us what a decadent society looks like, where people are commodities and tools, discardable and interchangeable. Bill slowly realizes this and then shuts it out, just as his wife does, preferring the safer world of surfaces and appearances to peeking behind the curtain and realizing exactly what you are (Him: a servant her: a prostitute) and where you rank.
posted by The Whelk at 7:07 AM on October 30, 2014 [4 favorites]

Take the infamous fight scene (in which Kidman is really awesome) if it seems funny they're arguing over an imagined infidelity, literally arguing about nothing, it's cause it is. It's easier to fight about a completely made up problem then deal with the elephant in the room.
posted by The Whelk at 7:13 AM on October 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

This is a much better film than a lot of people give it credit for. I like to think of it as Kubrick's "small film".

Scroll down to the second half of this page for an interesting examination of the street sets in EWS.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:20 AM on October 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think Tom Cruise works great in it because the whole movie is about putting his character in his place, and Tom Cruise's natural smugness is slowly worn away over the course of the movie. He comes across as having something to prove, which works with his character.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 7:26 AM on October 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

I saw it on opening night with my film buff friend, and loved it so much. All the set pieces are so bizarre! The costume shop! Meeting the piano player! Tom Cruise getting into the party! He's so sure he's sneaking in, and everyone there is thinking, "Who is this schmuck?" Nicole Kidman clearly having an awesome dream, then waking up saying what a nightmare she had! Just hours of beating down on poor Tom Cruise's ego. "Lucky To Be Alive" indeed.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 7:33 AM on October 30, 2014 [3 favorites]

Kubrick deals with misogyny a lot in his movies (seriously the undercurrent of almost all of them is how men hate women, even Strangelove fits it in despite having only one female cast member.) and there's a lot of overt "Men consider woman to be interchangeable objects or decor subject to thier whims." and marriage is a form of prostitution.

Alice has realized her role in the system and is rattling against it while Bill has to be put in his place by his social betters and pretty told to shut up, fuck your wife, and forget everything you saw and be the complaint little tool you're supposed to be.
posted by The Whelk at 7:41 AM on October 30, 2014 [3 favorites]

Huh. I really want to see this movie now. I had this vision of it as some sort of freewheeling soft porn orgy, but it sounds a bit like Vanilla Sky, which I love, or in any case deeper than what I was imagining. So, thanks.
posted by onlyconnect at 11:22 AM on October 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yeah the marketing mad it seem like Le Cousins Dangeroux - an arty softcore Euro style flick with famous US actors - Kubrick famously had control over the advertising of most of his films so I wonder why he went that way, not to mention the media all breathless over the idea of a NC-17 movie with a real life married couple, forgetting that Kubrick (arch, icy, controlling Kubrick) was maybe the least erotic director working.
posted by The Whelk at 1:14 PM on October 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

I wonder also if part of the meta-story of the movie is Bill's realization that sure he's rich and has his beautiful wife and utterly ridiculous apartment and other rich person playthings, but the truly wealthy play games on a whole other scale, and he will never, ever be anything more than an occasional observer.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:23 PM on October 30, 2014 [5 favorites]

Oh totally, he's constantly pushing poorer, lower class people around and flashing his money ("Doctor Bill") to make things happen - but then he gets a glimpse into the world of real wealth and power and realizes he's basically just another servant to them. Like in that pool room scene with Zeigler he has this uncomfortable, unconscious burst of class consciousness.
posted by The Whelk at 3:33 PM on October 30, 2014 [3 favorites]

The whole thing is spelled out when he bumps into Nick, and Nick tells him how he plays his gigs blindfolded, but he peeked once. The whole movie is Bill peeking under his blindfold, seeing that he could be beaten up or killed with no consequences for his assailants, and him deciding he's happier with the blindfold after all.

I mean, the movie is called Eyes Wide Shut. It's a little on the nose.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 3:36 PM on October 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

So the first thing you get when you Google Eyes Wide Shut Trailer is this and I'm not sure if it's real or a fan trailer but it makes perfect sense.

The use of the same music in the Brazil trailer* links it to another dystopian country in decline, with an all-poweful-power system that is both everywhere and invisible, like Eyes Wide Shut is just from the POV of a wealthy functionary to the ruling class that realizes too late they're no different than the plebs in the minds of the elite.

I kinda like Kreider's suggestion that most high-profile, highly paid critics didn't jibe with the movie cause they're in the same class as Dr. Bill and Alice, the highly paid servants of the very very rich.

*Also cause, the use of the music from the Brazil trailer and movie links together two empires in cannibalistic decline with a veneer of polite society, and it's so perfect.
posted by The Whelk at 7:50 PM on October 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

The making of this film was news as was the secrecy and length, the huge A list movie stars were sequestered in the European film studio with the mad genius for over a year. Expectations for the 2001 of sexually charged glamour films was high but as Thorzad suggests it was a "small" film. Pull out the somewhat gratuitous set pieces and it would have been a good episode on a gritty crime drama.
posted by sammyo at 5:33 AM on October 31, 2014

It's a haunting tense film that I found very depressing as many things about the world and the people who wield power in it are. It's a great film, but I remember the reaction of one of my sisters, who apparently laughed aloud uncontrollably at certain points in the theatre. I can't recall at what though.
posted by juiceCake at 7:30 PM on October 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

Elementary Penguin, I always find that Kubrick's movies are less complicated than some reviewers want them to be. He wasn't trying to trick anyone, or deliberately obfuscate his meaning. But it's done differently than the norm, so it's easy to overlook things like the blindfold line.
posted by harriet vane at 8:40 PM on October 31, 2014

We're watching this for NYE 2016 as part of the Holiday Movie Club
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:45 PM on December 31, 2016

Perhaps the movie reads more easily as the rich continue to get richer.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:42 PM on December 21, 2017

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