In New York, Dr. Bill Harford and his wife Alice go to a Christmas party, given by a wealthy patient, Victor Ziegle. After Bill has ran into an old friend, Nick Nightingale, a Hungarian man tries to pick up Alice and two young models try to take Bill off for a tryst. He is interrupted by a call from his host upstairs, who had been having sex with a young woman who has overdosed on a speedball. Next evening at home, Bill is shocked by Alice’s revelation that she fantasised a naval officer they had encountered on a vacation. Confused, he goes for a wonder, and has two unfulfilled encounters with available women, but then learns that Nick has an engagement to play the piano at a mysterious sex party and becomes very curious……….
Stanley Kubrick’s final film remains very odd viewing. It’s an unsatisfying piece of work, that still feels unfinished even though the director spent years and years on it, but it’s also a movie that will stay with you and will make you think about a variety of issues pertinent to life, especially of course sex and all the things that relate to it like commitment and lust. That is, of course, if you understand the film, which is packed rife with symbolism and references to countless sources from Lewis Carrol to Edgar Allan Poe. Viewers expecting an ‘erotic thriller’ are doomed to be disappointed and the extremely slow pacing put some people to sleep on first release, though I’ve grown to love it. The rambling feel of the first half, as the central couple wake up to the feelings that things aren’t right and Bill beings his journey of self-discovery, does give way to a very uneasy tension as Bill visits the orgy scene [a magnificently decadent sequence with a brilliant steadycam shot travelling through the house briefly recording various sexual acts as it does], after which the movie seems on the verge of becoming not only a wierd kind of paranoia thriller but suggesting that it might All Be In His Head. Then, it stops. The closing scene does satisfyingly close the central part of the story, but leaves so much else unexplained, which was probably the point. You may be bemused and confused by Eyes Wide Shut, but I doubt you could deny it still demonstrates a unique cinematic talent, here giving us what seems more and more to be his most personal film.