Shut. Even if I don’t tell you anything you don’t already know about the movie, please allow me to indulge myself. I really just wanted to use the phrase “play spoiler.”
Like most people whose lives don’t revolve around the relationship between Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman or around ferreting information out of Internet newsgroups, I knew very little about the highly secretive EWS before I stepped inside the theater. In fact, I knew only the following: that Cruise and Kidman may or may not get naked; that there’s this big orgy scene; that Cruise bangs his hands together angrily in the trailer; and that the theme music consists of nothing more than Chris Isaak crooning “They did a bad, bad thing” over and over. Now that I’ve actually seen the film, however, I can safely say that I know a whole lot more about this bad, bad thing more than you probably want me to tell you. But do you remember when I told you about that spoiler thing? Specifically, me playing one? Read on then, if you dare.
First off, let me rave about Eyes Wide Shut in my best movie critic speak: You’ll keep your eyes wide open during this movie! Eyes Wide Shut is one eye-opening film! The Eyes have it: Cruise and Kidman have such a Wide appeal that you’ll Shut your mouth in wonder! All of which translates simply as “Kubrick rules!” Yes, I liked the master director’s last film a lot, and not just because he got Nicole Kidman to flash her bodacious Aussie ta-tas at the camera every five seconds. I liked Eyes Wide Shut because he also trains the lens at her saucy Sydney-bred bum every other scene, and because he filled the rest of the movie with other impossibly hot-looking naked women. For these reasons alone, this horndog critic wishes the late director eternal peace.
Although much of the film is hard to follow simply because I counted only fifty-five words in the whole two-and-a-half-hour movie, including the exclamation “Nice snoobs!” I have surmised that Eyes Wide Shut primarily concerns the weird sexual journey taken by Bill Harford (Cruise) after he learns of the infidelities of his beautiful wife, Alice (Kidman). I say “primarily” because there are also incongruous subplots involving midgets, baseball players and doberman pinschers, and the whole thing turns out to be some sort of Bobby Ewing like dream. It’s as if Kubrick were summoning both David Lynch and Aaron Spelling simultaneously.
The movie begins with a bang, to say the least: after getting stoned to the bejeezus on high-priced Thai stick and talking briefly about how hot they make each other, psychiatrist Bill and his lovely wife Alice do it in the raw, doggy style. That’s right: the first fifteen minutes of the movie is basically one long sex scene between Hollywood’s biggest couple. I certainly felt like a peeping Tom
(no pun intended) watching two well known actors go at it like gibbons, and it disturbed me the same way it did that time I walked in on my parents having sex.
After this promisingly bizarre beginning, Kubrick’s dreamlike plot starts to take shape. Cut to an artful long-exposure shot of a fast-moving subway train in the early morning. As some beautifully eerie ambient music plays, the action moves to the inside of one of the empty cars, where a bored-looking Kidman is straddling some hot-and-bothered hunk and bucking up and down on him repetitively. In slo-mo, the camera pans around to reveal that the lucky guy isn’t actually Tom Cruise but instead the husband of Dharma from that lame ABC sitcom. Alice is doing a bad, bad thing indeed. Perhaps on his way to the office, Cruise’s character coincidentally gets on the train at the next stop and witnesses his wife’s very public indiscretion first-hand. Unfazed at being caught, she looks him straight in the eye and continues boffing that Greg guy. Before the doors close wide shut, Bill hops off the train, yells “What the fuck!” and bangs his hands together angrily. (We’ve only just begun and already the most highly anticipated scene from the trailer is used up.) The next few scenes involve Bill walking the streets of Chicago, most likely thinking about what a wretched whore Alice is after all. As he seems to be approaching a revelation, he is confronted by a sign that says “All topless, all the time!” Bill does a bad, bad thing and enters the strip club, where he meets a strange man who invites him to join a club that rewards sexually deviant behavior.
As the movie progresses, Bill navigates a series of twisted initiation rituals in order to join the club. First, Bill is told to stand in a room of strangers and strip naked. As visions of his adulterous wife flash through his head, Bill defiantly drops trou and accomplishes task one. Next, Bill is told that he must woo and deflower an amazingly sexy 15-year-old girl named Lola, which he dutifully completes, in part, by telling her that she reminds him of Mad About You’s Helen Hunt. Finally, Bill is told he must have anal sex with a pig, something he won’t be able to do, he jokes nervously, unless he’s “hopped up on Viagra.” (I laughed long and hard at that one, as I did many other times during the quirky film.) Eventually he refuses to pork pork, is booted from the club,
goes home to his bitchy wife and tells her what he did. She has newfound respect for him and they make sweet whoopee, at which point Alice wakes up from her dream and happily tells Bill about it. The end, sort of (see below).
I know it’s hard to believe that Kubrick’s last hurrah is nothing more than a spank flick, but that’s pretty much what it boils down to. In fact, Pee-wee Herman would love this film. Consider the much hyped orgy scene: as Bill walks down the halls of the sex club for the first time, he looks into different rooms and sees naked bodies writhing on the floors, on the furniture, in the fireplace. Women are doing men, men are doing men, women are doing women and, in one quick visual, a parrot is doing another parrot. I found myself getting amazingly worked up by all of this; that is, until a certain now-deceased director pulled a Hitchcock and dropped his droopy naked self into the scene.
There’s something for everyone in Eyes Wide Shut (except, perhaps, small children), but I especially enjoyed playing a game I like to call the Kubrick Follies. Inserted into nearly every scene of this truly unbelievable movie is a reference or homage to Kubrick’s best work. To wit: as Cruise is angrily walking down the street, a man dressed in caveman garb throws a bone into the air; the song “Singing in the Rain” accompanies the orgy scene; a sign on the wall at the sex club says “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Kubrick even goes beyond this risky self-referential business in a final great wink-wink moment by having Cruise and Kidman dance around in their