Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

by British Film Critic

Kubrick is known to be one for complex, layered directions, screenplays and storytelling, but this film may top the lot, with the attention to detail in every single moment being incomprehensible, utilising every aspect of the cinematic language to a tee, from Larry Smith’s deliberately colour-coded cinematography to Jocelyn Pook’s haunting score to the nuances of Kidman and Cruise’s performances, making it so that even after multiple rewatches, research and ‘explained’ videos, I doubt I will have fully wrapped my head around the complexity of what is at play here.

What I can understand however, too much appreciation, is the way in which Eyes Wide Shut tackles issues of modern relationships, of polygamy, of gender roles, of masculinity, of social expectations, particularly of women, in how it manages to do all of this whilst submitting to a larger plot at the same time.

Eyes Wide Shut is almost Lynchian in its approach to horror, in the depths of its nightmarish imagination and in the wildly unsettling, unnerving atmosphere it is able to create and maintain, and when I say that, I mean it as the highest compliment, considering how much I love the mind and works of David Lynch. One of the things I love most about this film is how it handles its pacing, how it flows from one scene to the next, from one mood to the next, and, ultimately, how it makes a film that’s nearing on 3 hours long feel so fluid and compelling. With that being said, no scene nor sequence comes close in terms of its ability to mesmerise than the infamous Masked Ball scene, which is both entirely terrifying and disturbingly hypnotic.

I hadn’t gone into this expecting so, but it seems that Eyes Wide Shut has taken the top spot from The Shining as my favourite Kubrick film, and I’m sure anyone who knows how much I love The Shining will now understand how much this film affected me.