Eyes Wide Shut
In Terry Southern’s Blue Movie — a novel dedicated to ”the great Stanley K.” — a genius director concocts a big-budget Hollywood stag film. But as Southern, who cowrote Dr. Strangelove, surely knew, Stanley Kubrick could never have created a porno utopia. His Lolita is a grim burlesque, Strangelove a doomsday joke on the reproductive urge. Of course, Alex’s drive to ultraviolence and his impulse to the old in-out are indivisible in A Clockwork Orange: In his morbidly comic way, the late Stanley K. always mingled fear and desire.
Thus, Eyes Wide Shut is an awkward meta-fantasy — equal parts daydream depravity and nightmare deprivation. Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise play a bourgeois couple, and one night, after smoking a joint, after the husband tries to initiate foreplay, the wife picks a fight, which leads to her disclosure of repressed lusts, which leads to his embarking on an odyssey through an erotic underworld, which may or may not be a dream. The only sure thing is that this beautifully shot movie plays pristinely even on TV. Flimsy and ponderous, lush and austere, Eyes Wide Shut adheres to its destabilizing looking-glass logic and nothing else but. A genius director concocts a big-budget Hollywood stag film: a blue movie in a blue note. B-
What we said then: ”…a vague, fragmentary mishmash of ominousness and cheap thrills…” C — Owen Gleiberman