Boy, there must have been something really unique, in a not-so-positive way, for a Kubrick film to get knocked off the list. Maybe it’s because this one was his final film, and thus the most recent and the list always has a tendency to edit out recent films to make way for newer ones. Maybe it is still too soon to really appreciate this Kubrick film; as Martin Scorsese put it, every major Kubrick film was misunderstood upon its release, only to be acknowledged decades later as something never seen before or since. Or maybe there was just too much Kubrick, a thought that rarely comes to my mind, if ever. Regardless, Eyes Wide Shut made the initial list, and for my purposes, that’s enough. This, in my pension for putting each Kubrick film into its own genre, is Kubrick’s foray into the sexual psycho-drama, with a little bit of thriller added in there to keep the amplitude up for good measure.
In a very typical Kubrick fashion, he goes a completely different route with Eyes Wide Shut than he’s ever done before. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Kubrick do a straight up romantic, passionate drama before, but, again, in typical Kubrick fashion, he nails it. The casting may have been a bit fortuitous; Cruise and Kidman were Hollywood’s “it” couple at the time, and putting real life couples together in a film doesn’t normally work out (Gigli is one prime example), but Kubrick is better than that. He channels each of their sides to the romance and explores them, multi-facetedly, in both the good ways and the bad. Here, though, that all comes secondary to the plot, which is mysterious and sensual in a darkly macabre way; I liked that we never fully know what is going on with the secret society and ritual, as explaining it would’ve removed all the power and mystique that Kubrick has so carefully crafted into the film, just as he has crafted meticulously every aspect of this personal-sized epic.
I like to include fun factoids about the films I review that I manage to find; for one, Eyes Wide Shut, upon its release in 1999, broke the Guinness World Record for longest continuous movie shoot, at 400 straight days. Dizzam. It certainly shows up in the final product; at over two-and-a-half hours, this will be a sizable investment on your part. I never thought I’d say this about a Kubrick film, but… I’m not sure if the return is worth your investment. There’s definitely something there, to be had, and despite its length I could see myself watching this one again (and maybe even several more times) to glean more from it than I did from the first viewing. However, not everyone will be like me; some will simply find this just slow and empty. I would disagree, but I can see how some would see the film this way, and it’s that which makes me give it the rating I did more than anything. I can definitely see, though, how this film could (and most likely will) grow in stature in the years to come; it is, without doubt, signature Kubrick, and in many ways, that’s all that need be said.
Arbitrary Rating: 7/10