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Eyes Wide Shut 1999 *****

After a year-long production that tied up two of the world’s highest paid actors (Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman), Stanley Kubrick’s final film was greeted with confusion when it arrived in 1999. Expectations of a psycho-analytical thriller were confounded by the gothic majesty of Eyes Wide Shut, adapted by Frederic Raphael from Arthur Schnitzler’s Traumnovelle. Cruise plays affluent NYC doctor William Hartford, whose suspicions about his wife’s past lead him to take a walk on the wild side of life. A chance encounter with pianist Nick Nightingale (Todd Field) leads Hardford to a country-house orgy hosted by a mysterious consortium; could Victor Zeigler (Sydney Pollack) hold the answers? Cruise gives a stunningly-wrought performance as a respectable man coming to the end of his tether, and there’s stand-out support from Alan Cumming and Leelee Sobieski. Eyes Wide Shut’s 159 minute running time feels like an expanded director’s cut, but the puzzles and symbolism of Kubrick’s final vision dig deeply into the psyche of the repressed modern man.

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