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"Eyes Wide Shut"

Directed by Stanley Kubrick.
Written by Stanley Kubrick and Frederic Raphael. 
Starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.
Release Year:  1999 
Review Date:  7/19/99 

(Warning:  some plot points are revealed during this review.)


Hmm, what can I say?  "Kickass" Simon and I went to see this last night over at Courthouse, and I was so alternately tired and baffled that I couldn't write this review last night.  So, I took my first work day to think about it, and well, here I am.

"Eyes Wide Shut" is about absolutely nothing.

There, I said it!  I didn't read any press about this movie, and I didn't read any of the reviews about the movie other than what appeared in the newspaper ad.  I didn't watch the "20/20" special a couple of nights ago.  Basically, no exposure to this movie.  So, I tried to follow the plot about a Manhattan physician (Tom Cruise) and his paper-pale wife (Nicole Kidman) as well as I could.  The problem with this, as Kickass pointed out as well, is that...there is almost no plot.  Sure, the main driver of the story is the sexual jealousy between the two leads, and later, Cruise's night on the town that ends up being a *little* more bizarre than he intended.  But, there is too much on the fringe in this story that just doesn't seem to make any sense!

Example:  Leelee Sobieski plays the daughter of a costume store owner, and as far as I can remember now, she didn't have any lines!!  But, what's worse about her part is that it looks like she is playing a 13-year-old whore for hire by a pimp--her father!  For Asian cross-dressers!  In the back of the costume shop!

Example:  Cruise pays his respects to the daughter of one of his patients, and when he comes to do so...she plants a big wet one on Cruise!  Cruise pulls away, saying "Mrs. ---, I barely know you!" (which is true), and proceeds to not be seen for the rest of the movie!  Meanwhile, the daughter during this scene says that in fact, she doesn't really want to marry her current fiancée, because that means she will move out of New York City (where all the action is based), and she's got to be living somewhere close to Cruise, or she'll just die!

Other problems are abound, but the most obvious are three-fold.  First off, I actually believe that Nicole Kidman can act, and for some incredibly dumb reason, she is almost nowhere to be found after the first hour.  Not that Cruise can't hold his own--I mean, shit, I own "Cocktail"*--but he isn't given much to do while, say, he has bad daydreams about his wife sleeping with a sailor.  I thought Kidman was good when she was given something to do, but tutoring the couple's on-screen daughter when Cruise came home didn't help things all that much.  Secondly, those loud, one-note piano crescendos really got to me by the end.

The other big problem:  this movie is 160 fucking minutes long.  I was wired on Skittles and I still had a hard time staying awake.  I usually believe in excess:  two of my favorite movies, "JFK" and "Pulp Fiction", run around 150 minutes or more.  But in those movies, stuff was going on.  I think the problem with the time here is that in lots of the scenes in "Eyes Wide Shut", the characters are thinking before speaking, or the director is soaking up the atmosphere, or Cruise is walking somewhere (and FYI:  I dare you to find a movie where a character spends more money on cab fare.  Dare you!).  This is all very realistic, but it adds a half-hour to an already-long movie.

The only really big plus for me about this movie was the look of it—Kubrick used a B-grade film type for this movie, and it makes a lot of the scenes at the opening party and the "house" party look really cool.  The cinematography is also excellent.

And the director, yes the director.  I loved Kubrick's "2001", "Spartacus", "A Clockwork Orange", "The Shining", and "Full Metal Jacket."  And while "Eyes Wide Shut" isn't nearly as sick and twisted as "Orange" (the old ultraviolence), it felt a little weird to me because Tom Cruise is in this movie.  This isn't "Jerry Maguire", "Top Gun", or "Mission: Impossible"--those mainstream big-at-the-box-office formula flicks that have become synonymous with his name.  But, I know that Cruise was big on starring in a Kubrick film--I just don't think I would have read this script and said "Aces, baby" when I finished.

But hey, that why he's Tom Cruise and I'm Big Daddy.

Rating:  Rental

*--Actually, I do think Cruise is a pretty good actor, and hell no, I don't own "Cocktail."  I'm a man, remember?


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09