NICK CLEMENT OPENS UP ABOUT EYES WIDE SHUT
Controversial to many; disappointing to some but fascinating to all. And, almost 20 years since its troubled filming process, EYES WIDE SHUT can continue to beguile a viewer. Its strange fusion of domestic claustrophobia and pornographic prurience provide pulpy platforms for the story’s husband hero (TOM CRUISE) to take an odyssey into an underworld of sexual self discovery and social maturity, overnight. The movie features one of NICOLE KIDMAN’S finest, sexiest, funniest performances.
Look out for excellent use of music, lighting, colour schemes and ambitious set designs (New York recreated on one Pinewood Studios lot). This is as arresting visually as any of Director Stanley Kubrick’s best work. Trivia: SYDNEY POLLACK’S role was originally meant to be played by HARVEY KEITEL and JENNIFER JASON LEIGH was also supposed to feature.
The film was released in 1999, having been filming since 1997. Kidman nonetheless slotted in her first West End play in 1998: THE BLUE ROOM, adapted by DAVID HARE and directed by SAM MENDES for the DONMAR WAREHOUSE (and subsequently, Broadway). That play was coincidentally, like EYES WIDE SHUT, based on a SCHNITZLER play. I was privileged enough to see that production and it made an excellent companion and comparison piece once its cinematic counterpart was finally released.
This film is always ripe for analysis, as NICK CLEMENT will show us now..
Eyes Wide Shut operates as a vivisection of a failing marriage, and is easily one of the most incisive and abrasive comments on the idea of monogamy and the modern family unit that’s ever been put up on screen. It’s also incredibly dreamy, more than a tad surreal, and highly erotic if never being truly sexy, except for the bit with Vinessa Shaw, (because there’s no way that she could fail to be sexy!).
Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman took some serious personal and professional risks here, with those risks and challenges cinematically paying off. I love that Todd Field is THAT piano player. Kidman’s final line of dialogue to close the film is absolutely perfect, summing up the psychological stance of the film in two succinct words.
The now infamous orgy sequence is something of a tour de force (the notorious prudes at the MPAA still be damned!), while Larry Smith’s hot-light cinematography singes the eyes while repeatedly playing with your expectations. There’s also a stilted quality to portions of the film which always make me feel like I’m watching Kubrick’s idea of a waking dream (or nightmare), with Jocelyn Pook’s sketchy piano-dominated score pecking away at your nerves.
Arthur Schnitzler’s highly influential Traumnovelle served as the basis for the narrative with the film being co-written by Two For the Road screenwriter Frederic Raphael and Kubrick. This is an endlessly debatable film and designed to be so. In retrospect, EYES WIDE SHUT feels like an appropriately cryptic and final piece of work to come from one of the most legendary and of filmmakers.
Stanley Kubrick, (who started thinking about the project in the late 1960s), died four days after screening his final cut for Warner Brothers execs, and it’s truly a shame he never lived to see the reception that the film received.
After spending close to a decade working in Hollywood, Nick Clement has taken his passion for film and transitioned into a blogger and amateur reviewer, tackling old, new, and far flung titles without a care for his cerebral cortex. His latest venture: Podcasting Them Softly, finds him tackling new ground as an entertainment guru, and along with his spirited partner Frank Mengarelli, are attracting some diverse and exciting talent to their site.
Some of Nick‘s favorite filmmakers include Michael Mann, Martin Scorsese, Tony Scott, Oliver Stone, David Fincher, Werner Herzog, Terrence Malick, and Billy Wilder, and he’s a huge proponent of the “31 Flavors of Cinema” school of thought. Favorite films include The Tree of Life, Goodfellas, Heat, Back to the Future, Fitzcarraldo, Zoolander, Babe, and Enter the Void.