*** This review contains spoilers ***
A man is drawn into an underground sexual group which puts his family in danger.
Based on Arthur Schnitzler’s 1926 novella Traumnovelle (Dream Story) as a mystery thriller Stanley Kubrick’s Eye Wide Shut at first glance doesn’t deliver, with only a few taught scenes littered throughout as an elite secret society is discovered by the film’s main doctor character played by Tom Cruise. However, as a visual and atmospheric piece of cinema it excels.
Interestingly, it’s not the famous masonic segment or Bill (Cruise) and Alison (Nicole Kidman) relationship woes nor the basic thriller premise that ignite interest it’s the plot’s undercurrent, what is not said but implied and insinuated through looks, background items and actions that makes Eye Wide Shut so interesting. It can been seen to have many layers and can be inter-played and interpreted in different ways similar to, but more subtle than the likes of Revolver (2005) or Mulholland Drive. Just touching the surface, did Bill and Alison handover their daughter to the secret society at the end? Was Alison already a member? Was Bill’s friend killed? Are the characters all lying to Bill? Kubrick presents endless questions, which answers only throws out more questions.
The camera work, lighting, sets, music and costumes are great. Supporting actors Sydney Pollack, Vinessa Shaw, Leelee Sobieski and Rade Serbedzija really shine. Oddly Kidman feels subdued throughout and Cruise (possibly cast too young) while reaching some emotional heights never seems moved by the bizarre nightmare he finds himself in, again this could be interpreted in different ways depending on your thoughts if you believe that there is more going on beneath the exposition or if it’s taken at face value. Eyes Wide Shut arguably only really works if you deem more is going on than there actually is.
Overall, excellent atmosphere with a story that allows the viewer to draw their own conclusions. If you expect a conventional thriller you may be left disappointed but if you enjoy daydreams about chance and missed opportunities this may float your boat.