Alice Harford: Millions of years of evolution, right? Right? Men have to stick it in every place they can, but for women... women it is just about security and commitment and whatever the fuck else!
Dr. Bill Harford: A little oversimplified, Alice, but yes, something like that.
Alice Harford: If you men only knew...Stanley Kubrick
's last film, completed just days before his death in 1999, Eyes Wide Shut
follows Dr. Bill Harford (played by Tom Cruise
) as he spends two noirish, surreal nights
on his sexually charged adventures
wandering New York City when his wife Alice (played by Cruise's then wife Nicole Kidman
) reveals that she had contemplated an affair a year earlier.
The film being advertised in total secrecy, impressive seeing how the internet was starting to become a major player with script leaks of other movies being commonplace, and released in a summer that included Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
and The Sixth Sense
, the film received a deeply polarized reaction
from both critics and moviegoers as they went into what was packaged as "Sexy Times with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman" and walked out with a complex, esoteric and largely unsexy
film that subverted all their expectations. Like all of Stanley Kubrick's other movies, it's slowly being Vindicated by History
, yet still remains somewhat divisive. Still recommended for Kubrick aficionados and completionists.No relation to Dies Wide Open
Provides Examples Of:
- Adaptation Expansion: Most of the episodes in the original novella are adapted one to one, with some minor differences. Some larger changes exist though: In the film, the party is explicitly shown to be an orgy, whereas in the book this was just strongly hinted at. The scene with Bill and Victor towards the end is also an addition, as the "Traumnovelle" left the story fairly open.
- Advertised Extra: Nicole Kidman largely disappears from the film after the first half hour.
- All Just a Dream/Schrödinger's Butterfly: Very subtle hints in the movie provide clues that this is so. After all, the movie is called Eyes Wide Shut.
- Big Fancy House: The lavish countryside mansion where the orgy is held. Shot at Mentore Towers.
- Bluff the Impostor: Bill is found out when he doesn't know the "house password" for the mansion. There never was a house password.
- Break-In Threat: Possibly. It's unclear if the bad guys left the main character's mask on his bed as a threat or if his wife simply found the mask herself.
- California Doubling: London standing in for New York. The English countryside for Long Island.
- The Conspiracy: Bill thinks he's stumbled onto a terrible one, but the ending leaves it unclear.
- Cult: One possible interpretation of the ritualists.
- Disposable Sex Worker: Heavily implied with Mandy, a hooker -according to Victor- who dies under mysterious circumstances, and halfway with Domino, who learns that she's HIV-positive and is never seen again right after Bill meets her.
- Fan Disservice: The orgy scene is not exactly sexy. The unhealthy ritual and atmosphere around it give the whole scene a very uncomfortable feeling.
- Gainax Ending:
- The Film of the Book: Traumnovelle by Arthur Schnitzler.
- He Knows Too Much: Bill and Nick after the orgy. It's stated that Nick got the crap beaten out of him by the wealthy men whose orgy he helped Bill crash but no one can located him. Furthermore, the man who tells Bill this only does so as part of a hard sell to Bill to keep quiet about what he saw, with it heavily implied that bad things will happen to Bill if he doesn't forget what he saw.
- Heroic Sacrifice: "I am ready to redeem him."
- The Illuminati: Someone is behind the orgy.
- In Vino Veritas: Bill and Alice can only get a bit more honest with each other after smoking a joint. This is an interesting deviation from the original novella, where no psychoactive substances were needed for the game changing confessions.
- Kubrick Stare: Seeing how he's the main character in the last movie by the Trope Namer himself, Bill does the stare from time to time.
- Malevolent Masked Men: A fair number of them are present at the "masked ball".
- Mind Screw: The movie has both dream-like visuals and consequently operates in dream logic. See All Just a Dream above.
- Ms. Fanservice: Alice is lightly clothed or naked for most of the movie. At a first glance, the orgy is full of fanservice extras.
- Never Trust a Trailer: They did a bad bad thing? Well, if they do, it's offscreen! This famous political analysis of the film says "a bunch of middle-school kids who'd snuck in to see it and slunk out three hours later feeling horny, frustrated, and ripped off." All the depicted sex is totally unsexy, if not censored.
- Nice Guy: Bill has issues and frustrations but is quite balanced for a Kubrick protagonist; he's smooth, bland, a good parent, treats working-class people with consideration and eventually comes clean to his wife.
- Ominous Latin Chanting: The sinister chanting during the "mass", when Harford first enters the mansion, is in fact part of a Romanian Orthodox Divine Liturgy, played backwards as is usually done during black masses.
- Plague Doctor: One of the cultists.
- Precision F-Strike: The last line of the story has Alice telling Bill what they need to do as soon as possible: "Fuck."
- Quest for Sex: With his wife's fantasy of an affair haunting him, Bill Harford goes on a voyeuristic exploration to deal with his sexual frustration. Probably shouldn't have visited that mansion party though. And in the end, he never gets it.
- Rule of Symbolism: The ceremony at the beginning of the "masked ball" is inspired from a Satanic ritual using reversed Orthodox liturgy, naked women as sex slaves and Masonic-like rituals to initiate an orgy. Not to mention the use of passwords.
- Scenery Censor: see Executive Meddling in the Trivia section. And apparently the early versions were more badly done, with Roger Ebert even comparing them to Austin Powers.
- Secret Circle of Secrets: The orgy club.
- Serious Business: Alice didn't even cheat on him. She once fantasized about cheating on him. This revelation rocks Bill to his core and sends him off on his Quest for Sex.
- Sexy Spectacles: Alice's penetrating gaze from behind her glasses underscores her sexiness when she's clothed.
- Shame If Something Happened: Bill is encouraged to stop his "pointless investigation" on the secret society, or else.
- Shout-Out: The password is "Fidelio", an opera from Ludwig Van. Little Alex would be grinning somewhere.
- Spotting the Thread: It's rather telling to arrive at a fancy party in the middle of nowhere in a taxi when everybody else arrives in a limousine.
- Streetwalker: Domino, who's awfully good looking for a streetwalker.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: Victor reassuring Bill that Mandy's death was purely accidental can come off as this.
- The Unreveal: Deconstructed: Victor says that Mandy died of an overdose after being gang raped at the orgy and that Nick got the crap beaten out of him but is alive and well and that the super-wealthy people at the orgy didn't have them killed and we only have Victor's word on the subject, which is suspect since these answers come in the same breath that he's telling Bill to forget what he saw at the mansion. Because the people at the orgy are the super-rich and super-powerful and that Bill should be grateful that Victor's effectively giving him all the answers he needs to hear, Victor says he has to move on and forget what happened that night.
- Your Cheating Heart: Fidelity and its fragility or meaninglessness are some of the main motifs of the movie. Subverted in that Bill and Alice have several chances to be unfaithful, but they never take them. It can be described as mental cheating.