Eyes Wide Shut

(1999) **** R
159 min. . Director: Stanley Kubrick. Cast: Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Sydney Pollack, Marie Richardson, Rade Serbedzija.

Eyes Wide Shut. The title names several states— the lucid dreaming of contemporary manners, the shadow world of our dreams and nightmares, and perhaps the most powerful state of all: a conscious denial of what we know to be true about ourselves...we are less than we want to be. After a 12-year wait, director Stanley Kubrick has delivered his final film, and, ironically, it is everything Kubrick wanted his films to be. With characteristic self-knowledge and seemingly unwavering confidence, Kubrick crafted his last masterpiece. Arguably, Kubrick is the finest filmmaker the young medium of cinema has ever seen, and Eyes Wide Shut offers no small testament to his legacy.

It would be criminal to reveal any more about what Warner Brothers has cautiously referred to as a "story of jealousy and sexual obsession" than that stars Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman play a husband and wife who face a crossroads in their marriage. Suffice it to say that the story incorporates elements of several genres: sexual thriller, black comedy, tragedy, and dream play. Kubrick effectively paints--and make no mistake about it, Kubrick paints every frame with elegant detail--a picture that goes far beyond domestic drama and into biblical allegory.

Kubrick makes films that capitalize on all of the potential of the art. They have the themes, imagery, and characterization of great dramatic literature. They have the breathtaking imagery of the most audacious and challenging art (though here, Kubrick sublimates his wilder visual impulses to attack the subconscious with simpler but prolific images). They have music and rhythm. Most importantly, they have the marriage of these elements into an astonishingly cohesive whole.

Kubrick's elliptical advertising turned out to be a clear and concise statement of the film he created. "Baby did a bad, bad thing," Chris Isaak intones in both the trailer and the film, and these transgressions put the married couple into the mirror: literally, in a much-publicized image from the film (and the film's poster art), and figuratively, in the seductive need to see an illusory, shallow image of one's self that is, at the same time, a reflection of reality.

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