Boy, I still remember going to see this movie like it was yesterday. I remember it in part because nobody else wanted to see it with me. So one Tuesday morning before work, I went to the Showcase Cinema in Randolph MA to see Stanley Kubrick’s final film, “Eyes Wide Shut.”
As I waited to buy my ticket, there was a lady of about 50-ish in front of me. She told the girl at the counter that going to the movies on Tuesday morning by herself was her tradition, and that she loved Stanley Kubrick movies.
I probably would have forgotten about her, but she ended up sitting in the same row I was in after getting herself a bag of popcorn and a drink. I’ll come back to this lady in a moment, right now let me tell you about “Eyes Wide Shut.”
Once upon a time, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman were Hollywood’s it couple. And it was only natural they would want to work together a couple of times. I think they did three movies together, the last being “Eyes Wide Shut” in 1999. Here, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman star as Dr. Bill and Alice Harford, a married couple who are big players in Manhattan society.
As the movie opens, they attend a society ball where eventually Bill gets called to an upstairs bathroom, where Victor (Sydney Pollack), the millionaire who is giving the party, has an overdosed hooker who needs a doctor. At the same party, Bill meets an old friend from medical school Nick, now a pianist.
The next night at home, Alice and Bill get stoned on pot and she describes a fantasy she had about another man. The two get into a huge fight, and Bill leaves the house and wanders the streets. Eventually he meets a prostitute named Domino and goes to her apartment, but after a kiss he calls off the encounter. Bill then meets Nick at a jazz club, and he learns that Nick has an engagement where he must play piano blindfolded. To gain admittance, Bill needs a costume, a mask, and the password, which Nick wrote down for him.
Bill takes a taxi to the country mansion mentioned by Nick where he discovers a sexual ritual is taking place. A woman wearing only a mask warns him he is in terrible danger. A porter then takes him to the ritual room, where a disguised red-cloaked Master of Ceremonies confronts Bill with a question about a second password. The masked woman intervenes and insists that she will redeem him. Bill is allowed to leave, but is warned not to tell anyone about what happened there.
Then a bunch of other stuff happens that would take me too long to explain, including, but not limited to: Leelee Sobieski being sold to prostitution, a random alan Cumming cameo, and a mask that shows up out of thin air.
At the time, I didn’t care much for the movie. I thought it was too long and the story moved too slow. However, as time went by I began to appreciate the movie more. I still don’t think its one of Stanley Kubrick’s best films, but being a fan of filmmaking, I appreciated the job he did. The way he framed scenes, the times he used (or didn’t use) music, and the way he let the plot speak for itself and let the viewer decide what to make of it. I even liked some of his casting choices, although it was odd seeing Vinessa Shaw play a hooker when I only knew her from “Ladybugs.”
Now, let’s get back to that lady from earlier. The very first scene in the movie involves Nicole Kidman taking off her dress. It was at this point when the lady I mentioned earlier dropped her drink forward, onto the seats below. Luckily nobody was sitting there at the time. The lady left her seat and returned a couple of minutes later with another drink. Byt the time the movie got to the orgy scene, this poor lady was gasping in shock. She didn’t even make it to the part where Tom Cruise got kicked out of the mansion.
As I headed for the door, the girl who sold me my ticked shouted something like “How was it?” and I told her it was strange to say the least. It was slow, so we talked for a couple of minutes about the movie. I told her what I didn’t like or did like. She then told me the old woman had come running, and asked for her money back because she didn’t know “Eyes Wide Shut” was a porn movie.
This, as you can imagine, made me laugh.