Stanley Kubrick's last feature (1999) skillfully portrays the dark side of desire in a successful marriage. Since the 60s he'd thought about filming Arthur Schnitzler's novella “Traumnovelle,” about a young doctor contemplating various forms of adultery and debauchery after discovering that his wife has entertained comparable fantasies. It has a Kafkaesque ambiguity, wavering between dream and waking fantasy, and all the actors do a fine job of traversing this delicate territory. Yet the story has been altered to make the doctor (Tom Cruise) more of a hypocrite and his wife (Nicole Kidman) feistier; Kubrick's also added a Zeus-like tycoon (played perfectly by Sydney Pollack) who pretends to explain the plot shortly before the end but in fact only summarizes the various mysteries; his cynicism and chilly access to power reveals that Kubrick was more of a moralist than Schnitzler. This is a gripping, suggestive, and inventive piece of storytelling that, like Kubrick's other work, grows in mystery over time......Most reviews of every Kubrick picture since 2001 have been mired in misapprehensions and underestimations—many of which are corrected years later without apology, one reason he apparently gave up on critics about 30 years ago. This doesn't necessarily mean he was always ahead of his time: one of the best things about Eyes Wide Shut—evident in such artisanal qualities as the old-fashioned sound track, the grainy photography, and the exquisite color balances ...—is that it isn't a film of the 90s in most respects but something closer to what movies at their best used to be. ... This is personal filmmaking as well as dream poetry of the kind most movie commerce has ground underfoot, and if a better studio release comes along this year I'll be flabbergasted. A Masterpiece.
R, 154 min. [Jonathan Rosenbaum , Chicago Reader]