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Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Eyes Wide Shut stars Tom Cruise and his then-wife Nicole Kidman. It is also the last film from Stanley Kubrick. The enigmatic director died just weeks after the final editing.

Dr William Harford (Cruise) and his wife, Alice (Kidman) dress for an evening out at a glossy New York party thrown by a wealthy consort with a taste – and the money – for beautiful young women who can’t handle their drugs.


There, the tipsy Mrs Harford is approached by a persistent eastern European Lothario while two dizzy models try to tempt Dr Bill upstairs.

Back home, Mrs Harford talks of an imagined infidelity and interrogates her husband about whether he lusts after his patients.

When he is called out to a dying patient he finds a beautiful and emotionally hungry daughter. He is propositioned by an amenable prostitute and the underage daughter of a fancy-dress shop owner.

The film hinges on the sort of solemn orgy scene familiar from the 1970s. Everyone must wear a mask. Everyone must know the password. Is a sacrifice planned?

The doctor’s Yellow Cab waits outside with the meter ticking. Sex, jealousy, fidelity, betrayal and masks are the themes.

Kubrick has had his triumphs (2001SpartacusDr Strangelove) his controversies (A Clockwork Orange), and his less successful adventures (Barry Lyndon).


Admirers may see Eyes Wide Shut (based on a 1920 Viennese novel) as the “haunting Masterpiece” of the publicity material.

Detractors may look for references in the earlier works from the likes of Nagisa Oshima (Ai No Corrida) and Nicolas Roeg (Bad Timing).

Eyes Wide Shut was promoted as the film of the decade that would take our understanding of sexuality further. It didn’t.

The movie took an agonising 15 months to shoot at Pinewood Studios in London and many more months in post-production.

During filming Harvey Keitel was replaced by Sydney Pollack, while Jennifer Jason Leigh was replaced by Marie Richardson despite having shot all her scenes.

Bill Harford
Tom Cruise
Alice Harford

Nicole Kidman
Victor Ziegler

Sydney Pollack
Nick Nightingale

Todd Field

Jackie Sawris

Leslie Lowe

Stanley Kubrick