Day 17 of the month that is commonly known as December and we’re onto the 17th movie in The James Proclaims Advent Calendar of Christmas(ish) Films. So far in this compendium of Christmas cinema we really haven’t had to engage our brains an awful lot.
But that isn’t going to work today.
Today we’re going to need to pay a bit more attention.
We’re going to need to keep our eyes wide open.
Because behind door 17 is Stanley Kubrick’s final film, Eyes Wide Shut.
Starring then real life husband and wife, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman as fictional husband and wife Bill and Alice Harford, Eyes Wide Shut is oft described as an ‘erotic thriller’.
I think that’s a fair description although it’s also an oversimplification. I wasn’t even aware there was such a genre a ‘erotic thriller’ until I started writing this. But apparently there is and it includes such films as Basic Instinct and Fatal Attraction. And really Eyes Wide Shut is not much like either of those films.
Also it’s a bit of a stretch to suggest that Cruise and Kidman share equal billing. I’m certain it was a handy marketing tool, given their real life marital status, but Cruise is on screen for a much larger percentage of the movie than Kidman.
Which isn’t to say that Kidman isn’t an essential part of the narrative, because she is pivotal to both the set-up and conclusion of the story. It’s just she doesn’t really have that much to do in the middle.
It’s a fairly bonkers plot. I suppose I should offer a ‘spoilers’ warning here, but frankly, the film came out in 1999 so you’ve had ample opportunity to watch it. In any case, I’m not sure the plot has much bearing on the viewing experience so I doubt I’m spoiling much.
From what I can tell, ‘the Harfords’ are too good-looking for their own good. After attending a Christmas Party at which they both attract the amorous attentions of others, they get a bit jealous of each other. When Alice confesses that she has fantasised about being unfaithful, Bill seems to set out on a revenge mission to actually be unfaithful, which seems like quite an extreme response. But, despite a number of women quite literally throwing themselves at him, he manages to not succeed. Then he gatecrashes a weird ‘sex party’, gets found out and suddenly his life is in danger.
Or possibly not.
It’s hard to tell really.
None of it makes a lot of sense. The characters all seem to be fairly detestable. The action is slow moving and at two and half hours the film is overly long.
If someone were to describe this film to me I’d assume that I wouldn’t enjoy it.
But I did.
Quite a lot actually.
And I’m not really sure why.
I find that happens a lot with Kubrick films.
Score For Christmasishness
The film is set at Christmas and there are festive decorations in most scenes. It really does look Christmassy.
I’m not sure there’s much in the story that merits it being set at Christmas, but when there are that many Christmas trees on screen, it would seem churlish to give anything other than a high score for Christmasishness.