Not fun. Not sexy.
Release date: July 16, 1999
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Who should watch this movie: Cynics with very specific kinks. Fans of 90s Nicole Kidman.
When should you watch this movie: Stone cold sober on a Tuesday (go for a run after).
The sell: I can’t find it right now but someone tweeted something a bit ago along the lines of “Is it misogynistic garbage or actually a sneaky feminist movie?” and I cannot think of a better way to describe Kubrick’s weird sex movie, Eyes Wide Shut. On one hand, this film has every flavor of objectification, turning a voyeuristic eye on women characters, most of whom are naked for the entirety of their time on screen, and most of whom are also nameless and faceless. It’s gross and uncomfortable, if not deeply disturbing. A bit like Tom Cruise, who is also in this movie. On the other hand, one could argue, “Well, that’s the point.” The male gaze, captured so precisely by Kubrick’s camera, may be an intentional framing meant to highlight the violent consequences of patriarchy. Though not explicitly disparaged, patriarchal abuses of power – in particular over women’s bodies – may be the true villain of the film’s narrative. One could argue that Kubrick aimed to disrupt men’s assumptions about women’s sexuality, calling attention to harmful expectations around sex and relationships. I wouldn’t argue that, but I’m just saying one could. What I find more plausible is that this movie has less to do with literal sex and more to do with Kubrick’s cynical perspective on the corrupting influence of power. Sex serves as a stand-in for darkness, perversion, and moral decay. There is no “good sex” in this film. There is a lot of sex set to ominous orchestral music and offset by sinister shadows. All that to say, let’s not all rush to give Kubrick credit for an almost feminist take, and lets definitely not all rush to see this movie. If you wan’t to feel an uncomfortable combination of scared and aroused, just go play the new Resident Evil (looking at you evil vampire lady).