Review: Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

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Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Directed by: Stanley Kubrick | 159 minutes | drama, thriller | Actors: Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Madison Eginton, Sydney Pollack, Todd Field, Jackie Sawiris, Leslie Lowe, Peter Benson, Michael Doven, Sky Dumont, Louise J. Taylor, Stewart Thorndike, Randall Paul, Julienne Davis, Lisa Leone

Almost thirty years before ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ premiered, a journalist friend bought the rights to Arthur Schnitzler’s book “Traumnovelle” at the behest of Stanley Kubrick. So Stanley Kubrick has had the idea for this film for nearly three decades, and this is indicative of the film’s shooting and reshoots. Stanley Kubrick is an incredible perfectionist, some scenes had to be re-shot eighty times. Even after Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman filmed the final scenes, Kubrick asked them to come back, partly because the roles of Victor Ziegler, William’s patient, and Marion Nathanson, daughter of William’s patient, initially starred Harvey Keitel. and Jennifer Jason Leigh were played. Harvey Keitel was replaced by Sidney Pollack, because the bathroom was not luxurious enough for Kubrick’s taste. A new bathroom had to be built, and Harvey Keitel did not have the time that would take. Jennifer Jason Leigh meanwhile was filming ‘EXistenZ’, so her scenes couldn’t be re-shot either, and she was replaced by Marie Richardson. All in all, it took two and a half years for the film to be shot.

Stanley Kubrick has managed to create a sultry atmosphere and the sex scenes between Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman are not even to blame. It’s more the mystery of the story, at the beginning of the movie you have no idea where it’s going and then when it finally becomes clear it’s like it was inevitable all along.

The meeting with William’s former classmate, Nick Nightingale, for example: at the beginning of the film it seems like a separate scene, but this later turns out to be one of the most crucial moments in the film. There is no scene in the film that is redundant. The scenes in the mansion are breathtaking, very bizarre and impressive. More macabre than erotic. In America, these images have been digitized, so that the film passed the inspection. The film is full of symbolism and of course, one of Kubrick’s trademarks, references to (his other) films. The name Bowman can be seen as William walks through Soho, Bowman is the name of a character from ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’. The name Kaminsky from ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ also appears in this film, because one of the patients with whom William cancels the appointment is called that. Also on William and Alice’s bedside table is a VHS of ‘Rain Man’, featured in the marijuana scene. This is obviously a reference to the movie starring Tom Cruise.

Although the film is a bit slow here and there and lasts longer than the average film, you are unnoticed in the story and want nothing more than for the mystery to be unraveled. It is a fascinating film that you will not easily forget.

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