Lisa Schwarzbaum bares all about Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Stanley Kubrick, and the naked ambition of selling

By Lisa Schwarzbaum
Updated July 16, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT
  • Movie

Behind the ”Eyes Wide Shut” hype

If there were a way for the editors of ”Popular Mechanics,” ”The Economist,” and ”Cat Fancy” to justify doing cover stories about ”Eyes Wide Shut,” I do believe they would — and that Nicole Kidman would readily pose for them, naked. Not only that, the pearly costar of ”Eyes” would readily chat, in that zingy, flirtatious, all-natural, no-nonsense, Australian way of hers, about how she and her handsome, good-natured, well-mannered, privacy-craving husband and ”Eyes” costar, Tom Cruise, are such a boring, cozy, intimate, unexceptional, private, and down-to-earth, hot-sex couple.

At a certain point in each interview (which would take place at some exotic, expense-account-draining locale), the journalist would make an admiring mental note of the star’s fresh-scrubbed, makeup-free beauty and describe her shiny, flowing, fiery, ringleted Pre-Raphaelite hair. And at some further point, Cruise would probably, coincidentally, drop by to give his wife a cozy, intimate, private, down-to-earth, hot-sex husband-and-wife cuddle; if he were out of town choreographing stunts for ”Mission Impossible II,” he would casually happen to phone home and generously agree to get on the horn with the journalist for a minute or two.

He would say this: ”Stanley Stanley Stanley proud NicandI Stanley friend Stanley Nic honored Stanley Stanley.”

Nothing in the ”Cat Fancy” or ”Economist” interview, however, would help you make any sense of ”Eyes Wide Shut,” a fascinatingly hermetic, unwieldy, logy, hollow, mournful, weedy, erotically anesthetized movie from a lonely boy from the Bronx about fidelity and adultery, sexual fantasy and sexual activity, dream life and waking life — and, most of all, about the star husband-and-wife team of Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise.

Stanley Kubrick, a potent filmmaker of irreducibly powerful imagery, had a special talent for translating psychic dislocation into great cinema. But in this, his final film, he would appear to be as droolingly, J.D.Salingerishly agog at the creamy beauty of Kidman and Cruise as any beguiled editor of ”Popular Mechanics.” His camera lingers on their lips, their eyes, the electricity with which, apparently, they lit a room; no wonder he kept them locked up with him in England for so long, unwilling to let his new friends abandon him so soon again to unglamorous old London.

If Kubrick were alive to participate in the hysterical hype and PR confetti that has cluttered the road to ”Eyes Wide Shut” for the past year — interviewed, say, in an issue of ”Foreign Affairs” or ”Smithsonian” or ”Self” — he would say this: ”Nic Nic Nic dear Tom Nic respect friendship integrity Tom Tom Nic Nic NicandTom.”

The photos accompanying the Kubrick interviews, of course, would be of Kidman, naked. After all, it’s the least she could do to support a friend.

Eyes Wide Shut

  • Movie
  • R
  • 159 minutes
  • Stanley Kubrick