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Eyes Wide Shut (1999) is a psychological drama with many elements of an erotic thriller considered by some a cult film directed, produced and co-written by Stanley Kubrick, based on the novella Traumnovelle (Dream Story) by Arthur Schnitzler. It was Kubrick's last film before his death. The story, set in and around New York City, follows the surreal, sexually charged adventures of Dr. Bill Harford (Tom Cruise), who is shocked after his wife, Alice (Nicole Kidman), reveals she contemplated an affair a year earlier. This leads him on a night-long, eventful sexual adventure, which climaxes with him infiltrating a masked orgy.

The film appeared on 16 July 1999 to generally positive critical reaction.

The film begins in the apartment of a wealthy, married couple, Dr. Bill Harford (Tom Cruise) and Alice Harford (Nicole Kidman), who are preparing for a Christmas party at the home of Victor Ziegler (Sydney Pollack), a friend and patient of Bill's. During the party, a Hungarian man (Sky du Mont) tries to seduce Alice, while two younger models try to seduce Bill. Alice and Bill both resist temptations. During the party, Bill is summoned by Ziegler to his bathroom where he finds a naked woman, Mandy (Julienne Davis), over-dosed from a speedball. Bill helps her regain consciousness and promises Victor he will not speak of the event. Bill also meets an old friend, Nick Nightingale (Todd Field), a former fellow student who dropped out of medical school and is now a pianist at the party. Nick informs Bill that he is playing at the Sonata Café.

The day after the party, Alice and Bill smoke marijuana and talk about encounters at the party. Alice confesses her feelings concerning a naval officer she saw while in Cape Cod. Because of Bill's self-assurance, out of spite she admits she was willing to abandon her future for one night with the officer. Shocked, Bill suddenly receives a telephone call summoning him to a deceased patient's home. Bill goes to the patient and the daughter, Marion (Marie Richardson), says she wants to give up her life to be with Bill. Bill resists and departs once Marion's boyfriend Carl (Thomas Gibson) arrives.

While wandering the streets, rowdy men, taking him for gay, taunt him and walk into him. A female prostitute named Domino (Vinessa Shaw) approaches Bill and solicits him. Bill accepts, but a call from Alice cuts their business after a kiss. Bill insists on paying.

He happens upon a sign outside the jazz club where Nick is piano player. As the two discuss things, Nick describes a party the night before where he is to play again tonight. Bill coerces Nick into divulging the party's requirements: a black robe with a hood, and a Venetian mask. He learns the location and the password: Fidelio.

Bill goes to the costume shop of a friend only to find it has a new owner, Mr Milich (Rade Šerbedžija). He bribes Milich to get a costume immediately.

Bill takes a cab to the party in a mansion on Long Island. What he finds inside is a hierogamy-inspired sexual ritual (orgy) involving women clad in masks and G-strings and led by an ominous man dressed and masked in red (Leon Vitali). Men and women watch, masked and clad in black robes, reminiscent of a Venetian Carnival. Nick plays the organ blindfolded. As the women rise from a circle surrounding a priest-like figure, they select men from the audience. One of the masked men stares at Bill for a short time, and a mysterious woman selects Bill and informs him that he is in danger and urges him to leave, but he refuses.

He is discovered as an outsider and forced to remove his mask. The red-robed master of ceremonies demands he disrobe, but his "punishment" is "redeemed" by the mysterious woman who tried to warn him earlier. Bill is threatened to remain quiet about what he saw or suffer, then returns home.

Bill finds Alice laughing in her sleep. After waking her, she tells him of her dream. She was having sex with other men, and she knew that Bill was watching, so she laughed at him.

The following day, Bill decides to investigate what happened. He goes to the hotel at which Nick was staying and finds from the front desk clerk that Nick has apparently been brutalized for telling Bill about the party and password, and is now gone. Bill returns the costume to the shop where another sexually charged situation involving Milich's teenage daughter (Leelee Sobieski) and two Japanese men follows. Mr. Milich also offers his daughter as a prostitute to Bill. He returns to the mansion where the orgy had taken place, but is warned off. Bill goes to Domino's apartment where he learns from her roommate that Domino received results of a blood test, which said she was HIV positive. Amanda Curran, the woman who "redeemed" Bill, is dead, ostensibly of a drug overdose behind a locked apartment door. Bill goes to the morgue and learns this woman is Mandy, whom Bill had helped to revive at Ziegler's party. He is unable to establish that the woman did die simply of a drug overdose. Bill is then called to Victor Ziegler's home, where the millionaire claims he was one of those at the ritual and that nothing further was done; according to him, Amanda was a drug-addicted prostitute and Nick was allowed to leave without further punishment. Both here and in the orgy it is implied that Ziegler was the masked man staring at Bill and that he summoned Amanda to "redeem" his friend. No evidence is presented, however, concerning the fate of Amanda and Nick, and Bill and the audience are left to decide between the explanation given to him or a possible double murder. Ziegler does warn Bill against investigating further, as some of the masked participants are said to be powerful members of society.

Bill returns home to Alice and finds the mask he wore to the party on the pillow next to her. He breaks down crying, waking Alice before confessing about his journey. While Christmas shopping later that morning, Alice and Bill reconcile and attempts to improve their marriage seem to be underway. It is also suggested that the bulk of the film was merely a dream that Bill had, although this is deliberately left ambiguous.
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review by . August 05, 2009
Tom Cruise stars as  Bill a man in a mundane marriage with an equally bored wife Alice (Nicole Kidman).  After a strange party involving a near fatal overdose and seduction, the couple return home where Alice tells Bill a tale about a time that she would have left him for one night just to spend time with an naval officer who caught her fancy.  Bill shocked by her admission is left in a daze that follow a series of events that will test their relationship as temptation, sexual situations …
review by . February 24, 2005
Pros: Nicole Kidman.     Cons: Script lacked cohesion; there was no real story here.     The Bottom Line: It turned out instead to be a bit of a bore, with a few titillating scenes thrown in for good measure.      Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot. I remember when the whispers began about Eyes Wide Shut, a supposedly incredibly erotic and sensual dramatic film staring the husband and wife team of Tom …
review by . April 27, 2001
posted in Movie Hype
This clever but ultimately unsatisfying erotic psychodrama has a couple of high points but for me fell flat most of the way. It is clearly intended to seem unreal, but also seems contrived in too many places. The best parts for me are scenes where Kubrick plays on the ambiguities of jealousy in both male and female flavors. He touches on very uncomfortable realities for both men and women. Yet he lets go of the tension just when he needs it most.In the pivotal early scene, the wife confesses an …
review by . May 15, 2000
Pros: Beautiful scenery     Cons: Way too long, plot was very thin, bad acting     What a let down this film was. After all of the hype and then Kubrick dying. I had high expectations about this film but was really dissapointed by it in many ways.      The plot didn't make any sense. It was all cloak and daggers and fog that went no where. It was two steps away from being laughable. Several times the audience tittered nervously throughout …
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Eyes Wide Shut
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