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"EYES WIDE SHUT"
(1999) (Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Heavy Minor Heavy Mild None
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild None Moderate None Extreme
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Extreme Mild Moderate Moderate Mild


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: After his wife's confession of a lustful fantasy, a doctor sets out on a two-night odyssey filled with jealously, anger, and an assortment of bizarre encounters with various unique characters.
PLOT:
Dr. William Harford (TOM CRUISE) and his wife Alice (NICOLE KIDMAN), a former art gallery manager, are a happily married and prosperous couple who live with their seven-year-old daughter, Helena (MADISON EGINTON), in Central Park West.

After they attend a lavish party thrown at Victor Ziegler's (SYDNEY POLLACK) expansive mansion and separately flirt with members of the opposite sex -- including a suave Hungarian, Sandor Szavost (SKY DUMONT), who openly propositions Alice -- they return home.

There, an initially benign discussion about the differences between men and women regarding sex turns into a heated argument and Alice's confession to lusting after a naval officer (GARY GOBA) she met the summer before. Shocked at this announcement, Bill has little time to react when he must make a house call to comfort Marion (MARIE RICHARDSON), whose father -- a patient of Bill's -- has just died. For some odd reason, Marion comes on to Bill, but barely knowing her, he graciously makes his exit.

Yet he can't get the thought or imagined sight of Alice with the naval officer out of his mind. After his conscience gets the better of him and aborts a near tryst with Domino (VINESSA SHAW), a local hooker who approached him, Bill goes to visit Nick Nightingale (TODD FIELD), a former medical student-turned pianist with whom he briefly attended medical school. Although it's late at night and Nick has just completed a set at a local club, his comments about another immediate gig where some eye-opening activities and beautiful women abound entice Bill.

With the secret password to gain admittance and a rented costume and mask from Milich (RADE SHERBEDGIA), a costume shopkeeper who's discovered his daughter (LEELEE SOBIESKI) in a liaison with two adult men, Bill attends a bizarre ceremonial gathering at a palatial estate. There, a near-Pagan ritual leads to many nude women and public sex acts, but before he can participate, Bill's revealed as an outsider.

Forced to leave with threats of retaliation if he reveals what he saw, Bill tries to figure out exactly what he encountered and must then contend with his nagging curiosity, paranoia, and a combination of guilt and jealousy over his wife's earlier confession.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Teens might if they're fans of Cruise, Kidman, director Stanley Kubrick and/or have heard about the film's nudity/sex scenes, but younger kids will probably have no interest in it.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For strong sexual content, nudity, language and some drug-related material.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • TOM CRUISE plays a successful doctor who's troubled by his wife's confession of lusting for another man. As such, he goes on a two-night odyssey where he comes close to having sex with several strangers (including a hooker). He also smokes pot in one scene, uses extreme profanity and drinks some.
  • NICOLE KIDMAN plays his wife who confesses to lusting after another man. She also uses extreme profanity and smokes pot in one scene (along with cigarettes in several others).
  • SYDNEY POLLACK plays a wealthy man who's into kinky sex and briefly uses strong profanity.
  • RADE SHERBEDGIA plays a feisty costume shop owner who seemingly provides his presumably underage daughter to older men for sex.
  • LEELEE SOBIESKI plays that daughter who apparently has sex with older men.
  • TODD FIELD plays Bill's old friend and former medical student-turned pianist.
  • VINESSA SHAW plays a hooker who picks up Bill and nearly has sex with him.
  • SKY DUMONT plays a man at party who repeatedly comes on to Alice despite knowing she's married.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    OUR TAKE: 7 out of 10
    While the most anticipated film of the summer for the average moviegoer may have been the latest "Star Wars" flick or the sequel to "Austin Powers," among film afficionados, the picture that has cinefiles salivating like Pavlov's dogs is the latest -- and sadly last -- film from acclaimed director Stanley Kubrick who died earlier this year.

    Not the industry's most prolific filmmaker -- this release marks only his thirteenth feature over a career spanning forty-six years -- but certainly one of the most meticulous and legendary of all time, Kubrick's previous efforts include well-known films such as "2001: A Space Odyssey," "The Shining" and "Dr. Strangelove."

    Now, for his swan song following a twelve-year cinematic furlough (his last film being 1987's "Full Metal Jacket"), Kubrick leaves us with "Eyes Wide Shut." A tale of marital unrest, jealousy and suspicion that drives a man into an unexpected and bizarre odyssey, this isn't Kubrick's best film, and its methodical and creeping pace may drive some viewers nuts.

    Yet, like all of the auteur's films, this one has his incredibly unique, trademark touch that easily sets it apart from the rest of the cookie cutter pictures released every year. No one shoots a film like Kubrick, and this picture's visual style -- the incredible cinematography, lighting and production detail -- is simply mesmerizing and glorious to watch.

    The antithesis to today's MTV-style filmmaking, Kubrick allows each and every scene its own time to fully achieve its necessary temperature, whether that be an icily cold scene or one that erupts with steamy passion. Although Kubrick's standard slow dissolves and long and near unwavering character reaction shots may make the film sound stuffy and/or too static, it's anything but.

    From the wonderfully flowing steadicam shots through palatial estates (that will remind viewers of similar scenes in "The Shining"), the brilliant use of music (found in many of his films) and his overall and literally mesmerizing directorial style (that extracts so much from seemingly so little), the film is constantly compelling despite its slow pace and more than two and a half hour runtime.

    While it's the combination of all of Kubrick's "tricks" that make his films so exceptional, it's his splendid use of music that really sets them apart. From the wonderful orchestral score of "2001" to the synthesized revamping of Beethoven in "A Clockwork Orange," Kubrick has forever linked those films and their music in a favorable symbiotic relationship. Here, his repeated use of a simple piano chord -- quite similar in its effective simplicity to the opening, flyover score of "The Shining" -- gets increasingly creepier every subsequent time it plays.

    Where the film somewhat falters is with its plot and near glacial pacing of individual scenes as well as the overall proceedings. Based on Arthur Schnitzler's obscure 1926 novella, "Traumnovelle" (Dream Story), Kubrick and fellow screenwriter, Oscar winner/nominee Frederic Raphael (for the 1960s films "Darling" and "Two For the Road") have fashioned an intriguing story of sexual jealousy and obsession, and the repercussions of both.

    Yet despite some fascinating and/or disturbing scenes that are reminiscent in their bizarreness to what Griffin Dunne experienced in Martin Scorsese's similarly odd, nighttime odyssey, "After Hours," the story as a whole is never as compelling as its individual pieces. Like many of his films, however, there are plenty of memorable moments as well as his standard use of creepy people in eerie settings.

    One of Kubrick's favorite images and most effective shots is of his protagonists locked in a seemingly frozen expression, an inner turmoil apparently simmering just below their stare that burns right through the camera and into the viewer's soul. One only has to think of the sight of Malcolm McDowell in "A Clockwork Orange," Jack Nicholson in "The Shining" or Vincent D'Onofrio in "Full Metal Jacket" to recall such haunting images.

    While our protagonist here, ably played by Tom Cruise ("Mission: Impossible," "Rain Man"), gets to join the ranks of such starers, the look -- while still somewhat effective -- isn't quite as creepy. Nonetheless, Cruise does a decent job with the role, especially considering that he has to play a great deal of it under the confines of purposefully reduced emotive capacity.

    Although some may complain that Cruise is always just playing a variation of himself -- therefore limiting how far he can stretch -- I found his performance here right on the money as an obsessed man who consequently finds his life unraveling.

    His costar -- on the screen and in real life -- is, of course, his wife, Nicole Kidman ("Practical Magic," "To Die For"). With a gutsy performance that requires a lot of exposed skin, Kidman does a fine job, although I can see why some might fault her performance due to the way in which she embodies her character. Needless to say, the chemistry between her and Cruise seems quite natural -- as it should -- but some may be surprised that she's absent from the screen for many long stretches of time.

    Supporting performances are good, but many of the actors and actresses have such limited or temporary roles that they come in and out of the picture like a revolving door at a casting call. Nonetheless, Sydney Pollack (the actor/director hybrid who's helmed films such as "Out of Africa" and "The Firm") is good as the doctor's somewhat creepy, but wealthy friend, while Rade Sherbedgia (the villain in "Mighty Joe Young") delivers a brief, but fun performance as a shopkeeper awakened in the middle of the night for some after hours business.

    Todd Field ("Ruby in Paradise") and Vinessa Shaw ("Hocus Pocus") deliver decent performers as Bill's old friend and new hooker acquaintance respectively, while despite rumors of her role in the film, up and coming star Leelee Sobieski ("Never Been Kissed," "Deep Impact") only gets a few moments to show her wares, which in this case are her bra and panties.

    That element, and many far more explicit ones, are where this film is drawing the most controversy and/or general attention. Kubrick's often had a thing for nudity in his films (think of "A Clockwork Orange" and "The Shining"), but here -- like in those other films -- presents it in an odd, but boldly visible fashion.

    Neither really that erotic nor displaying a vulnerability of those who are naked, the nudity in his film is just there like any other set piece and the effect is quite odd and somewhat hard to explain in words. Of course, the voyeuristic nature of many viewers will have them more concerned and/or curious about the sexual interaction between Cruise and Kidman. While a few steamy scenes between them exist, others -- including one where digital characters were superimposed over an orgy-like scene to insure an R and not a NC-17 rating -- certainly steal the spotlight from them.

    Yet while such scenes will easily elicit the most water cooler conversations, they're just another cog, if you will, in Kubrick's overall scheme. While fans of his body of work may have varied reactions to this, his last effort, one can't argue his cinematic prowess even if the film may be somewhat flawed. Although we found it slow at times, the picture is visually astonishing and mesmerizing, and while it's clearly not his best film, "Eyes Wide Shut" is certainly a must-see for afficionados of serious filmmaking. We give the picture a 7 out of 10.

    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a brief look at the content found in this R-rated drama. A tremendous amount of nudity is present throughout the film -- some of it for several minutes at a time -- although nearly all of it is female-based (with several instances of full frontal nudity, as well as many shots of bare breasts and butts).

    Sexual encounters are also present -- some of them quite sensual and/or graphic -- with an orgy-like party displaying many couples having sex in front of others, while an imagined sex scene with nudity and movement is seen many times. Sexually based comments also occur.

    Profanity is extreme with more than 20 "f" words being used, along with other profanities/words. The characters played by Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman smoke pot in one scene, and some drinking and smoke is also present.

    Some bad attitudes are present (with talk of lustful fantasies and near adulterous encounters), and murderous violence is implied, but never confirmed. Due to the nudity and sexual material, many parents or others who are concerned with such moments may want to more closely examine the listed content should they still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for anyone in their home.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Bill, Alice, Nick and others drink champagne at a party, with Alice later commenting that (and acting like) she's had quite a few and is consequently somewhat inebriated.
  • We see a woman who's nearly passed out from a "speed ball" (cocaine and heroin), but don't see the drugs or their use.
  • Bill has a beer.
  • We see Alice rolling her own joint and then smoking it. She then passes it to Bill who also takes a drag or two (we hear, but don't see him do that).
  • Bill has a beer and Nick has a vodka and tonic at a club (while another man at the bar has a drink as well).
  • Bill sees a newspaper headline about a woman dying of a drug overdose.
  • Victor offers Bill a drink and both have Scotch.
  • Bill has a beer.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • Two scenes feature dead bodies, but beyond being dead, they're not bloody or gory in any way.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Despite knowing that Alice is married, Szavost repeatedly hits on her and eventually propositions her to go upstairs with him (for sex). She returns some of this flirtation, but ultimately doesn't do anything with him. At the same time, Bill flirts with two models who seductively come on to him.
  • Alice tells a story about lusting after a naval officer on Cape Cop the preceding summer. She then says that the officer "wanted me. Even if it was only for one night. I was ready to give up everything. You. Helena. My whole f*cking future."
  • Some rowdy college kids knock Bill off a sidewalk and into a car and briefly act menacing toward him (and call him some names), but then go on their way.
  • Bill has varied, sexually related encounters with different women (but never has sex), and lies to Alice about what he's doing or been up to as he becomes obsessed with/jealous of her disclosed lustful fantasies/dreams.
  • Some viewers may be offended by the public sex and nudity along with the pagan-like sex ritual that occurs in one scene.
  • Bill lies to a waitress about having medical results for Nick (so that he can get his address).
  • After initially being mad at his presumably underage daughter for fooling around with two older Japanese men (and calling her a "whore"), a father later admits that he and the men came to an agreement and then subtly offers his daughter to Bill if he would desire to have her in the future.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Two scenes feature dead bodies, but beyond being dead, they're neither bloody nor gory in any way (but may be unsettling to some viewers).
  • Some rowdy college kids knock Bill off a sidewalk and into a car and briefly act menacing toward him, but then go on their way.
  • The whole pagan-like sex ceremony where everyone is masked (in Greek theater-like masks) and acting strangely may be unnerving or even a bit scary to some viewers, particularly when the participants confront and act somewhat menacingly toward Bill.
  • Bill sees someone following him at night on the streets and this goes on for a bit.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • None.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Jeez," "Faggot," "Sucked" and "Whore."
  • A young man makes the hand/mouth gesture for male oral sex.
  • The characters played by Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman smoke pot in one scene.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A moderate amount of ominous music, as well as some creepy piano chords are heard at various times throughout the movie.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 21 "f" words (12 used sexually as is the term "banging"), 3 "s" words, 2 slang terms for or involving male genitals ("pr*ck" and "c*cks*cker"), 4 slang terms for breasts ("t*ts"), 7 hells, 2 asses (1 used with "hole"), 2 uses each of "Oh my God" and "Oh God" and 1 use of "God" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • We briefly see Alice's bare butt as she undresses and moments later briefly see her sitting on the toilet with her dress pulled aside revealing a lot of thigh.
  • Despite knowing that Alice is married, Szavost repeatedly hits on her and eventually propositions her to go upstairs with him (for sex). She returns some of this flirtation, but ultimately doesn't do anything with him. At the same time, Bill flirts with two models who seductively come on to him.
  • Szavost tells Alice that the only reason women got married in the past was that it was the only way to lose their virginity and then be free to do whatever they wanted with other men -- "the ones they really wanted."
  • We see Victor getting dressed and then see a completely nude woman (breasts and pubic hair), drugged into near unconsciousness, slumped in his chair. We see several different angles of her (and her nudity for more than a minute), and also see a large mural/painting on the wall showing a fully nude woman (breasts and pubic hair).
  • As Alice stands looking at herself in the mirror, we see her bare butt and bare breasts. Bill then comes over, put his arm around her, nuzzles her neck and then caresses her breasts. As they kiss, the camera zooms in to their heads and then fades away before we see anything else.
  • We see a patient's bare breasts in Bill's doctor office.
  • We briefly see Alice's bare butt and the side of her bare breasts as she gets dressed and the camera pans up her body.
  • We see several minutes of Alice in a sheer, partially see-through tank-top and extremely high-cut panties (that shows all of her bare hip).
  • Alice asks Bill about some models he was flirting with, "Did you, by any chance, happen to f*ck them?" He says that he didn't and then asks what Szavost wanted with her and she responds, "Sex. Upstairs. Then and there." Bill then asks, "He wanted to f*ck my wife?" When she says that's correct, he replies that he can understand why (as he sensuously caresses her clothed breasts). She then gets mad and asks if just because she's beautiful, "that's the only reason a man would want to f*ck me?" After Bill tries to explain that men are just that way, she asks whether she should then conclude "that you wanted to f*ck those two models?" She then adds, "The only reason you wouldn't f*ck those models was only out of consideration for me?"
  • They then get into a conversation about what he thinks about when he's examining a patient's "t*ts" and whether his female patients lust after him. He says that sex is the last thing on their minds. A comment is then made about men needing to "stick it in everyplace they can."
  • Alice tells a story about lusting after a naval officer on Cape Cop the preceding summer. During this she recalls that Helena went to the movies and that she and Bill "made love." She then says that the officer "wanted me. Even if it was only for one night."
  • We see Bill's imagined view of Alice and the naval officer on a bed with him kissing her and feeling her clothed breasts while she pulls off her underwear.
  • Marion suddenly starts passionately kissing Bill, but he doesn't return the affection.
  • Bill briefly sees a couple passionately making out on the street with the man feeling the woman's clothed butt.
  • We see Bill's imagined view of Alice and the naval officer again, this time with the guy's hand under Alice's shirt and then running it down to her crotch (which is blocked by her raised bare leg).
  • Domino, a prostitute, stops Bill on the street and asks if he wants to "have a little fun." He reluctantly agrees and then goes back to her place. Once there he says, "I suppose we should talk about money." She then replies that her charge "depends on what you want to do" and he then asks what she recommends. She then tells him to let her decide and we see them slowly kiss (and she says, "So, shall we?"), but then his phone rings and nothing else happens.
  • A costume shop owner finds his young daughter behind the sofa in her bra and panties (which we see) with two older Japanese men, each wearing costume wigs (with one seen in thong underwear and the other covering his crotch with a pillow or something similar). Later, Bill sees the daughter, again in her bra and panties, and then notes the two Japanese men leaving from her room. When he asks the father about this change of heart (the night before he was mad at the older men), the father says that they came to an arrangement (for them to fool around with her) and then suggests that if Bill ever needs something more than a costume (while putting his arm around his daughter), that he's got what he needs (the daughter).
  • Bill has another imagined vision of Alice and the naval officer where we see him caressing her bare breasts.
  • At a bizarre ceremony or ritual where everyone is masked, including Bill who's essentially crashed the proceedings, we see a circle of women drop their robes. As such, they wear just their masks, high heels and thong-like bottoms (thus we see most of their bare butts along with all of their bare breasts, all for several minutes).
  • Those women then pair off with selected men and retreat to other parts of the large, palatial estate. Bill then walks off with a woman wearing just the above, but she warns him to leave (he doesn't). He then walks around the mansion and sees partially obscured views of people having sex in front of others who watch them. As such, we partially see the following: a woman graphically moving up and down on top of a man, as well as a man having sex with a woman lying on top of a table (or similar tall furniture), two people in the sixty-nine position, two women caressing a third woman's bare breasts, another couple having sex with movement, and another similar couple in another room.
  • We then see a woman slowly walk up who's now completely nude (full frontal -- bare breasts, pubic hair). She then asks Bill if he wants to go somewhere a little more private. Another completely nude woman then walks up and takes Bill away from the other (as we see another woman moving on a man's lap having sex).
  • We then see many nude, or half-nude couples dancing and thus see bare breasts, and bare butts.
  • Alice tells Bill about a dream she had where she was lying naked and then approached by the naval officer. She then says that he was kissing her and that they were "making love," and that suddenly they were surrounded by many people and that "everybody was f*cking." She then adds, "I was f*cking other men" and that there so many that she doesn't know how many she was with.
  • Bill has another imagined view of Alice and the naval officer that shows them from the waist up with him on top of her having sex (with movement) and feeling her bare breasts. Several scenes later he has another similar imagined view.
  • Bill and another woman get sensual and he unbuttons her shirt (or lightweight jacket) and puts his hands on her, caressing her (but we can't see anything from our side view of them) and they don't do anything else.
  • We see a recently deceased woman's completely nude body in the morgue for a minute or so (bare breasts and pubic hair).
  • Victor comments about a another man probably "banging" his own wife and says that a woman Bill met at a party "got her brains f*cked out" there.
  • Alice tells Bill that there's something they need to do as soon as possible. When he asks what that is, she replies, "F*ck."
  • SMOKING
  • Alice smokes several times.
  • Various people at a party smoke and a man smokes at a bar.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Marion and her brother grieve over their father's very recent death.
  • Bill and Alice's marriage gets shaky after they reveal their thoughts and/or actions.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Alice's sexual fantasy confession and Bill's jealous/obsessed reaction to it.
  • The strange "sex party" that occurs in the middle of the film (with everyone being masked and public sex occurring).
  • A character states that "marriage makes deception a necessity."
  • AIDS -- we learn that a character has recently been diagnosed with it.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Some rowdy college kids knock Bill off a sidewalk and into a car and briefly act menacing toward him, but then go on their way.
  • A costume shop owner tries to hit two older Japanese men -- whom he's discovered with his younger daughter -- with some wigs they were wearing.
  • There's talk of a man being roughed up, or possibly killed, while we also see a dead woman who may have been killed (or possibly died as explained, from her own drug overdose).



  • Reviewed July 14, 1999 / Posted July 16, 1999

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