Fear and Loafing

And so are Kubrick's, until the picture's final scene--when he decides he needs to wrap everything up in a nice, neat little package. His mouthpiece is Alice, who tells her husband that maybe all they've been going through is just a dream. But as we all know, a dream is never just a dream. And maybe now that they are awake, what they should feel is grateful--grateful that they have been able to survive all the temptations placed in their paths, to be together after all their adventures. The audience, of course, wonders: What temptations? What adventures? From where we sit, their only challenge was a couple of mildly bad dreams. No real danger threatened them, and nothing was really at stake.

What is interesting, though, is that at least in subject matter, Eyes Wide Shut deals more with the problems of normal, everyday life than perhaps any movie Kubrick has ever made. In this sense, it is his most personal, most mature work. Unfortunately, what it reveals is that of all the subjects he might have chosen, this was the one with which he was least familiar. As a result, Eyes Wide Shut comes off as an attempt by a director, near the end of his life, to come to terms not with the future, or outer space, or creation, or war, but something so small and vital as the emotional life of a couple. Perhaps it was his attempt to return to the real world of feelings and emotions.

This makes his failure here--and his death--all the more poignant. As a filmmaker, Kubrick was still young. The saddest fact is that we will never know if, indeed, this film signaled a change of direction, or if he would in subsequent films have blasted off again into other worlds. And for that we can never feel grateful.

Eyes Wide Shut.
Directed by Stanley Kubrick, from a screenplay by Stanley Kubrick and Frederic Raphael, inspired by a novella by Arthur Schnitzler. Starring Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman and Sydney Pollack.

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