If your typical festive, family viewing these holidays doesn’t have enough marital dysfunction, gratuitous sex parties or cryptic, inconclusive mystery for your liking – boy, do we have the movie for you…
After a confronting incident at a friend’s Christmas party, Alice Harford (Nicole Kidman) reveals to her husband Bill (Tom Cruise) her fantasies of cheating on him with a naval officer they met on vacation. With his perception of marriage and devotion rattled, Bill embarks on an impulsive and increasingly bizarre journey through New York, encountering colleagues at jazz clubs and digressing into an unnerving foray of a mysterious masqueraded society…
Stanley Kubrick’s notoriously divisive final film is not your typical Christmas viewing; there’s very little cheer and festivities to be found in this rather bleak and chilling affair. But if you look closely, every scene (save the famous masked orgy) is illuminated with colourful Christmas lights and brimming to the edge of the frame with tinsel and decorations, giving the film a surreal, almost dreamlike haze – in other words, typically Kubrickian symbolism.
There are interpretations aplenty; some feel as though it was intended to paint the consumerism of Christmastime as foreboding. While others note that the holiday itself represents lust and desire in that it always promises more than it can deliver. We’ll never really know, since Kubrick died just six days after its completion – further adding to the daunting mystery surrounding it (not that he ever discussed any of the more ambiguous elements of his films anyway).
Eyes Wide Shut has the essentials of your standard Christmas movie – ultimately a family is brought closer together than ever before in time for the celebratory day, even if it is through paranoia and fear of an unknown force. Recommended for anyone seeking a thrilling, ominous and psychological spin on the merry occasion.
Images courtesy of Roadshow Films