I've never read Tromnovelle, the book upon which Eyes Wide Shut is based, so I can't say how much the film strayed from the source material (although if Kubrick's past adaptations are any indication one can assume he took some liberties), but I will say that there were indeed some very bright spots in this flawed diamond of a film.
Dr. Bill and Alice Harford (Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman) are a successful couple with a seemingly happy relationship, a daughter, nice apartment, and rich and generous friends. The two attend a party thrown by one of Bill's most wealthy patients, Victor Ziegler (played by director Sydney Pollack). Bill is led off to assist Ziegler who has a prostitute in his bedroom on the verge of a fatal overdose, and Alice is left alone to mingle with a handsome older gentlemen who fawns over her, and awakens a desire in her long dormant. After the party, the two discuss the evenings events over a joint, and Alice brings up sex, and the thoughts of infidelity. At first the discussion is purely clinical, but when Alice reveals that she had harbored a longing to be ravaged by a man she had only met in passing, Bill is hurt and angered, and takes to the streets in search of some catharsis. Thus begins Bill's journey into a dark, sexually charged nether-world, where everything and everyone has its price, and ,for Bill, that price may be his life.
Eyes Wide Shut infuriated me. Not because it was a bad film, but because it could have been so much more than it was. It seemed as though there were so many possible paths that the film could have taken, and we are teased with images and characters that hold great promise but are never revisited. Even the film's much talked about Orgy sequence, which injects the films first element of suspense, is quickly written off in the rather rushed and unsatisfying conclusion.
However, Eyes Wide Shut is also a film that improves after multiple viewings, and I think this has something to do with the way the film never REALLY answers any questions! I found myself masochistically revisiting this world for clues and instead found NEW questions that made me have to view it again, and again, and again.... and ultimately I consider this film to be the rarest of achievements; it's the first disappointing classic. I love it and hate it with an equality that simply baffles me.
It is said that Kubrick had already had final cut on the film prior to his death, and that this Eyes Wide Shut is the version he wanted us to see, but something tells me there was more. There had to be. Where was Bill's motivation to punish Alice so harshly for merely THINKING about having sex with another man? Why was so much made of Bill's investigation into the orgy, the threats, the stalking, only to have it tied up so neatly with a stern lecture from Ziegler, and nothing more? I'm sorry, but there was much too much potential wasted in this film for me to not to question who actually had final cut, and if the movie was even finished at all, but, as stated, this unfinished feel actually compels the viewer to revisit the film!
Warner Brothers has proven to be a very good friend of the DVD, and Eyes Wide Shut is no exception. Extras are plentiful here with trailers, a making of doc, interviews with Kidman, Cruise, and Steven Spielberg, who all mostly gush on and on about Kubrick's genius, but say little regarding the movie. The film is presented full frame, like most Kubrick DVD's because that's how he shot them. There is no need for a widescreen transfer on any of his films post-Barry Lyndon. That said, the print is gorgeous, vibrant, and doesn't have a fleck on it, adding to the already sterile as an operating room vibe.
Eyes Wide Shut is slow-moving film, yet for all of its faults one cannot help but fall under Kubrick's spell. It's like spying on your attractive neighbors because they fuck with the blinds open. It is wrong, you feel like a voyeuristic sicko, and you should really just get look away, but there is something inside of you that says differently, and that's the part of me that is in love with Eyes Wide Shut.