ARCHIVED REVIEWS (E)
East is East
Eight Legged Freaks
8 Mile
Emperor and the Assassin
Emperor's Club, the
Emperor's New Groove, the
Empire
End of Days
End of the Affair, the
Enemy at the Gates
Enough
Equilibrium
Erin Brockovich
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
Evelyn
Evolution
Exit Wounds
Exorcist, the
Eye of the Beholder
Eyes Wide Shut

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Archived Video Reviews (E)
 

EAST IS EAST - B-
Starring:
Om Puri, Linda Bassett, Jordan Routledge, Archie Panjabi, Emil Marwa, Chris Bisson, Jimi Mistry, Raji James
Directed by:
Damien O'Donnell
Drama, 96
min (14A) (Miramax, 2000)


Mixed messages, intents and tones mark this dramedy about a wacky mixed-race family in 1971 London. Om Puri (My Son the Fanatic) plays George Khan, a stern Pakistani immigrant who came to Britain to find work and wound up marrying an English lass (Linda Bassett) who bore him six sons and a daughter. Now those children are growing up and, despite George's efforts, straying from the family's strict Muslim ways. Throughout this autobiographical tale by Ayub Khan-Din, one can't help but admire the strong and subtle performances by Puri and Bassett. Nonetheless, much of the humour here concerning arranged marriages, racial conflict and circumcision is just too forced to be effective. When the story takes a dark turn, it is difficult to decide if it is for the better or the worse. On the one side, it helps control the film's often-unwieldy humour. On the other, the sudden alteration makes the film seem much less cohesive as a whole. (top) (back)

EIGHT LEGGED FREAKS - C+
Starring:
David Arquette, Kari Wuhrer, Scarlett Johansson, Doug E. Doug, Matt Czuchry, Leon Rippy, Rick Overton, Scott Terra
Directed by: Ellory Elkayem
Comedy, 99 min (14A) (Warner Bros., 2002)


Its title sounds like it may be a timely Spider-Man spoof, but Eight Legged Freaks actually turns to something far more dated for inspiration, namely cheeseball 1950s monster flicks like Them! (1954) Tarantula (1955). Here David Arquette, turning down the Scream-style doofus routine a few notches, plays a mining engineer who gets trapped in a sleepy Arizona town when giant spiders - mutated following a laughably small chemical spill - begin devouring everything in sight. Director Ellory Elkayam nails a visual touch that brings to mind the black comedy and vicious thrills of Gremlins (1984) and Tremors (1989) but, unfortunately, this leads to inevitable comparisons that only illustrate just how thin, throwaway and light-on-the-wit Eight Legged Freaks is. The characters, which also include a paranoid radio host (Doug E. Doug), a sexy local sheriff (Kari Wuhrer) and her teenage daughter (Ghost World's Scarlett Johansson), are such disposable stock figures that the film - as moderately amiable as it is - never generates anything approaching the suspense or jump-from-your-seat shocks of a picture like Arachnophobia (1990) that really knew how to capitalize on our general fear of creepy crawlies and burrow beneath the skin. Get out the Raid. (top) (back)

8 MILE - B+
Starring:
Eminem, Kim Basinger, Brittany Murphy, Mekhi Phifer, Eugene Byrd, Taryn Manning, Xzibit, Evan Jones, Omar Benson Miller
Directed by: Curtis Hanson
Drama, 111 min (18A) (Universal, 2002)


Like Britney Spears' Crossroads, Eminem's 8 Mile doesn't stray too far from its performer's musical persona. Unlike Crossroads, however, 8 Mile has the benefit of capitalizing on its lead's brazen edge to build to a moment of pure cathartic emotional fury as dazzling as it is inspirational. Directed by the talented Curtis Hanson (1997's L.A. Confidential), 8 Mile casts Eminem (born Marshall Mathers III) as Jimmy "Rabbit" Smith, a down-on-his-luck Detroit auto-factory worker whose aspirations for hip-hop success keep getting shot down by his stage fright and trailer park roots. Watching 8 Mile, you know that the film is heading down the path of an uprising of the underdog picture like Rocky (1977), but Hanson does more than just run through the motions, allowing the various shades of Rabbit's life - his rocky relationship with a trashy baby-doll (Brittany Murphy), his combustible home life with an alcoholic mother (Kim Basinger) - to complete the picture. At this point, there's no way of determining if Eminem's commendably restrained performance is the result of inexperience or acting skill, but the approach works very well here, allowing his insecurity to brilliantly fade away as the rhymes start bursting forth with palatable passion. (top) (back)

THE EMPEROR AND THE ASSASSIN - B-
Starring:
Gong Li, Fengyi Zhang, Li Xuejian, Wang Zhiwen, Chen Kaige, Sun Zhou, Zhang Feng-Yi
Directed by:
Chen Kaige
Drama, 161
min (14A) (Columbia Tristar, 2000)


Chinese filmmaker Chen Kaige, who stunned North American audiences with Farewell My Concubine and Temptress Moon, knows how to make a film as beautiful as humanly possible. Throughout this historical epic about a would-be emperor (Li Xuejian) who - driven by a thirst for power and historical impact - strove to peacefully unite China's warring seven kingdoms, Chen offers one sumptuously shot scene after the next, with much of the credit for this going towards cinematographer Zhao Fei. For all the film's gorgeous visuals, however, it still comes up short with regards to characters, motives and story. In recounting his tale about a good king gone bad, the former assassin hired to kill him (Zhang Fengyi) and the woman who loves them both (Gong Li), Chen all to often passes on developing his ideas in exchange for pretty pictures. (top) (back)

THE EMPEROR'S CLUB - B-
Starring:
Kevin Kline, Emile Hirsch, Embeth Davidtz, Rob Morrow, Edward Herrmann, Harris Yulin, Patrick Dempsey
Directed by: Michael Hoffman
Drama, 140 min (PG) (Universal, 2002)


It's a nice surprise when one realizes that The Emperor's Club - a sincere drama about the relationship between an inspirational teacher and his prep school students - isn't content to just follow in the footsteps of Goodbye, Mr. Chips and Dead Poets Society. In this case, the moral growth of the students actually plays out with less emphasis than that of the teacher and the film provides a balanced look at the decisions that educators must make. It's just too bad that the picture takes so long to reveal it's true colours, focusing on stock characters and situations for too much of its running time. Kevin Kline, who previously worked with Club director Michael Hoffman in 1999's A Midsummer Night's Dream and 1991's Soapdish, gives a welcome and likeable performance here as William Hundert, a beloved classics teacher who decides to take on a spoiled rich kid (The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys' Emile Hirsch) as a project for redemption. Kline and Hirsch spare off each other well and Hoffman's direction offers a suitably restrained take on Ethan Canin's short story The Palace Thief, particularly in later scenes when it stops being Dead Poets Society II and reveals its true character in a flash-forward reunion between student and teacher. (top) (back)

THE EMPEROR'S NEW GROOVE - B
Starring: David Spade, Eartha Kitt, John Goodman, Patrick Warburton, Owen Wilson, Wendie Malick, Tom Jones
Directed by: Marc Dindal
Animated, 78
min (G)
(Walt Disney, 2000)

Coming as it does after the emotional elegance and visual artistry of 1999's Tarzan, The Emperor's New Groove can't help but seem like a sitcom version of the typical Disney animated film, complete with TV-level voice talents (Just Shoot Me's David Spade, Roseanne's John Goodman, Seinfeld's Patrick Warburton) and a storyline that adds up to little more than a series of gags. Because of this, the film feels a little on the slight side, but it is also nimble and undeniably entertaining, wisely delivering most of its laughs with a hip, irreverent spin and a welcomed fast-pace. Directed by Disney veteran Marc Dindal, Groove ditches the usual Disney trademarks (cute animals, sappy song-and-dance numbers) for the story of a smug, pseudo-Incan emperor (Spade) who is turned into a llama by his scheming adviser (Eartha Kitt) and befriends a big-hearted peasant (Goodman) in his quest to regain his throne. All things considered, The Emperor's New Groove doesn't add up to much, but it sure goes down easy. (top) (back)

EMPIRE - C
Starring:
John Leguizamo, Denise Richards, Peter Sarsgaard, Sonia Braga, Isabella Rosselini, Treach, Fat Joe, Delilah Cotto, Nestor Serrano
Directed by: Franc. Reyes
Drama, 90 min (18A) (Universal, 2002)


It isn't too often that you see a picture that combines the talents of comedian John Leguizamo, Barbie doll Denise Richards, plus-size rapper Fat Joe and European darling Isabella Rosselini, but it is far too often that you see a cautionary tale like Empire that, despite its interesting cast, is too dull and bluntly obvious to leave much of an impression. Leguizamo is miscast here as Vic Rosa, the head of a drug-dealing unit in the Bronx who, upon word that his girlfriend (Delilah Cotto) is pregnant, decides to partner with a slick Wall Street investment banker (K-19's Peter Sarsgaard) in an attempt to generate enough wealth to move out of his old neighborhood. In his directorial debut, Franc. Reyes places far too much of an emphasis on a cheesy Latino soundtrack and, most damaging to the picture, he makes no attempt to conceal where the story is headed, not by downplaying the supposed secrets of the characters, not by shadowing in the story with interesting shades of gray and certainly not by trying to offer surprising twists. As a result, one watches Vic fall for one scam or mistake after another and never once believe that this guy has enough smarts to make it big on the streets, let alone in the world of investment banking. (top) (back)

END OF DAYS - C+
Starring:
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gabriel Byrne, Kevin Pollak, Robin Tunney, CCH Pounder, Udo Kier, Rod Steiger
Directed by:
Peter Hyams
Action, 123
min (18A) (Universal, 1999)


After taking some time out following the failure of Jingle All the Way, Arnold Schwarzenegger jumped back into the action fray with this millennium-themed thriller to prove he's still got it. But for all of Arnie's best efforts - he actually cries in this picture - End of Days simply doesn't have the strength to support him or his oversized personality. Schwarzenegger plays Jericho, an ex-cop who learns that he is the only one who can stop the devil (Gabriel Byrne) from impregnating a virginal beauty (Robin Tunney) and taking over the Earth. Considering the importance of Jericho's task, director Peter Hyams (The Relic) spends far too little time developing suspense and far too much time overloading End of Days with blunt religious metaphors. Certainly not helping matters is the film's screenplay, an erratic piece of work that shows little understanding of its own themes or characters and leaves no room to appreciate the film's best quality: a slyly sinister performance from Byrne. (top) (back)

THE END OF THE AFFAIR - B
Starring:
Ralph Fiennes, Julianne Moore, Stephen Rea, Ian Hart, Sam Bould, Jason Isaacs, James Bolam, Deborah Findley, Heather Jay Jones
Directed by:
Neil Jordan
Drama, 101
min (14A) (Columbia Tristar, 1999)


Sometimes the end of the affair is only the beginning of the story and that's the setup for this beautifully shot, well-crafted drama from writer-director Neil Jordan (The Butcher Boy). Based on Graham Greene's 1951 novel of love, jealousy and religion, the film casts the exquisite Julianne Moore as a married British woman and Ralph Fiennes as the lover she suddenly leaves behind. As the film goes on, with Fiennes' character growing more and more obsessed about his failed love affair, the other sides of the relationship come eloquently into focus and Jordan quietly turns the film into a smart theological debate. For all the thoughtfulness, skill and stellar acting that went into making The End of the Affair, though, the film almost ends up being too intelligent for its own good. This wise and involving picture is definitely worth a look, but unlike, say, The English Patient (which also starred Fiennes), it remains more in your head than in your heart. (top) (back)

ENEMY AT THE GATES - B-
Starring:
Jude Law, Joseph Fiennes, Rachel Weisz, Ed Harris, Bob Hoskins, Eva Mattes, Ron Perlman, Gabriel Marshall-Thomson
Directed by:
Jean-Jacques Annaud
Drama, 131
min (14A) (Paramount, 2001)

As much High Noon as Saving Private Ryan, this intense drama from Jean-Jacques Annaud (Seven Years in Tibet) focuses on the 1942-43 Battle of Stalingrad, a desperate and chaotic struggle that helped turn the tide of World War II against the Nazis. More specifically, the film looks at the gripping real-life story of Vassili Zaitsev (Jude Law), a Russian shepherd-turned-sniper hero who, because of his role in inspiring patriotism in his countrymen, became embroiled in an intense cat-and-mouse game with a calculating German sniper (Ed Harris). So long as Annaud keeps his cameras on the passionate Law, coolly captivating Harris and gruesome carnage of history, Enemy at the Gates makes for a crackling and taut western posing as a war drama. When the cameras turn away, however, it is another story, with Annaud unnecessarily tracking the relationship between Vassilli, a Russian propaganda officer (Joseph Fiennes) and the woman they both love (Mummy mommy Rachel Weisz). Like Law, Shakespeare in Love's Fiennes gives a haunted, understated performance, but his character - and the movie's central core - is poorly served by stolid genre trappings. It's almost enough - note I said almost enough - to bring the movie toppling down. (top) (back)

ENOUGH - C-
Starring:
Jennifer Lopez, Billy Campbell, Juliette Lewis, Noah Wyle, Dan Futterman, Bill Cobbs, Fred Ward, Tessa Allen, Ruben Madera
Directed by:
Michael Apted
Suspense, 111 min (14A) (Columbia, 2002)


If you've had just about enough of pop singer/gossip-magnet/dancer/clotheshorse/perfume designer J. Lo, it is worth recalling that before she got abbreviated, she was simply actress Jennifer Lopez, a sweet and touching presence in films like Selena (1997), Jack (1996) and Out of Sight (1998). Watching Enough, it is worth remembering what once was because a second-rate potboiler like this - think Sleeping With the Enemy meets Death Wish - gives Lopez virtually no room to breath as an actress. Here Lopez plays Slim, a waitress who meets and marries a wealthy contractor (Billy Campbell), gives birth to his child and then, five years later, suddenly learns he is a controlling, sexist and abusive monster. With fate stacked against her, Slim goes into hiding with her daughter (Tessa Allen), stalked at every turn by a husband with an endless supply of resources, and then decides it is time to learn self-defense and go all Charles Brosnan on her pursuer. Needless to say, Enough is hardly set in the world of reality - the abrupt good-to-evil transformation of Campbell's character is about as believable as The Powerpuff Girls - and, as a result, this wannabe vision of female empowerment never comes across as more than pure cartoon revenge fantasy. (top) (back)

EQUILIBRIUM - C
Starring:
Christian Bale, Sean Bean, Taye Diggs, Emily Watson, William Fichtner, Angus MacFadyen, Dominic Purcell
Directed by: Kurt Wimmer
Action, 107 min (14A) (Dimension, 2002)


It may not be set in 1984, but Equilibrium shares more than a few points with George Orwell's Big Brother classic, not to mention a half-dozen other sci-fi efforts (The Matrix, Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World…) that the film robs from liberally to the point of general uselessness. Written and directed by Kurt Wimmer (screenwriter of 1999's cold Thomas Crown Affair and 1998's sealed-off Sphere), Equilibrium is set in restrictive future in which the destruction during World War III has resulted in a society where emotion has been outlawed and all law-abiding citizens take a sense-deadening drug daily to suppress all sense of feeling. Of course, this doesn't really make sense - If one can't feel happiness or sadness, how come these characters all possess attributes like ambition, suspicion and frustration? - but Equilibrium's vision is really only hollow ambition, with Wimmer wasting most of his time trying to one-up the Hong Kong-style action scenes that have become gratingly familiar in the years since The Matrix. For what it is worth, the cast features American Psycho's Christian Bale as John Preston, a "sense offender"-seeker who decides to stop taking his medication and Taye Diggs as his enforcer partner and eventual hunter. (top) (back)

ERIN BROCKOVICH - B+
Starring:
Julia Roberts, Albert Finney, Aaron Eckhart, Marg Helgenberger, Conchata Ferrell, Jamie Harrold
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Drama, 132
min (14A) (Universal, 2000)


Julia Roberts gives a performance marked with humanity, passion and excessive cleavage in this fact-based, Oscar-nominated inspirational drama about a single, uneducated mother of three who, through sheer pluck and determination, aids in successfully bringing a utilities giant to its knees after the company poisons the residents of a nearby town. Directed with understated intelligence and verve by Steven Soderbergh (sex, lies and videotape), Erin Brockovich is structured a little too falsely when it comes to playing up the lead’s sass and quick wit, but the picture’s emotional high points ring true (Roberts likely took home the Best Actress Oscar for one teary-eyed phone call alone) and, from beginning to end, the film succeeds as unabashedly mainstream entertainment. Bonus marks must also be awarded for the inspired casting of Albert Finney as the lawyer who gives Brockovich her first chance. The two actors masterfully play off each other like a seasoned comedy duo. (top) (back)

E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL - A
Starring:
Henry Thomas, Dee Wallace Stone, Peter Coyote, Drew Barrymore, Robert MacNaughton, C. Thomas Howell, K.C. Martel
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Drama, 120 min (PG) (Universal, 1982/2002)


Needless to say, there have been significant advances in special effects in the 20 years since E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial first stormed the planet (these days, the little fellow would likely be as computer generated as a Jurassic Park dinosaur or Star Wars weirdo). Because of this, it comes as little surprise that Steven Spielberg decided to give his masterpiece (the best film of the director's early prime) a cosmetic lift for this special edition rerelease, including the smoothing of some puppet movements, a subtle upgrade to alien facial expressions, the replacement of some guns with less-violent walkie-talkies and some interesting if unnecessary additional scenes (cinema purists can take comfort in knowing that both versions of the film are available in the DVD release). What works best here, however, is primarily what remains the same, namely the extraordinarily honest and unfailing friendship that blossoms between a lonely boy (Henry Thomas, still worth admiring for his youthful purity) and his lost alien buddy. Far more intimate and glowing than nearly every family film released since, E.T. truly remains a timeless adventure, a tale of innocence and childhood belief that still has the power to evoke fits of laughter, joy and tears. (top) (back)


EVELYN - B-
Starring:
Pierce Brosnan, Aidan Quinn, Julianna Margulies, Stephen Rea, Alan Bates, Sophie Vavasseur, John Lynch, Niall Beagan
Directed by: Bruce Beresford
Drama, 94 min (PG) (MGM, 2002)


Director Bruce Beresford makes a habit out of alternating between commercial ventures like 1999's Double Jeopardy and squarer efforts such as 1989's Oscar-winning Driving Miss Daisy and, though it may star James Bond himself, Pierce Brosnan, Evelyn fits snugly in the latter category. A surprise-deficient, sentiment-heavy and yet familiarly comforting drama, Evelyn features Brosnan as Desmond Doyle, a real-life Irish father who fought the system in 1953 when his daughter Evelyn (Sophie Vavasseur) and two boys were taken out of his custody following the departure of their mother (the country's Family Act of 1941 didn't allow a single father to care for his kids). Anyone who doesn't think Doyle will eventually get his kids back obviously hasn't seen enough movies like this, but Beresford has assembled a winning cast that includes Aidan Quinn, Stephen Rea and a nicely comical Alan Bates as Doyle's legal team (with Julianna Margulies as the love interest) and Brosnan projects the right amount of sympathy and frustration. Besides, even if you want to fault Evelyn for trying extra hard to jerk the tears, you have to admit that this is one true-life story that deserved - and, as depicted here, warrants - a happy ending. (top) (back)

EVOLUTION - B-
Starring:
David Duchovny, Orlando Jones, Julianne Moore, Seann William Scott, Ted Levine, Dan Aykroyd, Ethan Suplee, Sarah Silverman
Directed by:
Ivan Reitman
Comedy, 102
min (PG) (Dreamworks, 2001)

Evolution may not bring much new to the table - director Ivan Reitman rehashes the same mix of comedy and fantasy that made his Ghostbusters (1984) such a hit, The X-Files' David Duchovny once again plays an intellectual battling aliens - but that certainly doesn't mean that this sci-fi spoof can't be enjoyable on its own throwaway terms. Effective here as the straight man, Duchovny plays Dr. Ira Kane, a community college teacher who, along with his geologist colleague (Double Take's Orlando Jones) uncovers an alien race that landed in the desert as single-celled organisms but is rapidly evolving and may soon take over the country. Reitman, who's had his share of disappointments since Ghostbusters (Junior, Fathers' Day), occasionally lets the pacing of Evolution lag and this only highlights the spottiness of the films' screenplay, particularly in scenes involving Sean William Scott (rehashing his American Pie routine as a wannabe fireman) and Julianne Moore (wasted as a klutzy government scientist). Still, the effects are fun, there's a triumph of product placement, and Reitman's light tone keeps the action and actors in a likeable Men in Black-esque spirit (the elastic and delightfully goofy Jones comes across best). (top) (back)

EXIT WOUNDS - C-
Starring:
Steven Seagal, DMX, Tom Arnold, Anthony Anderson, Isaiah Washington, Jill Hennessy, Michael Jai White, Bruce McGill
Directed by:
Andrzej Bartkowiak
Action, 101 min (18A) (Warner Bros., 2001)

At this point in cinematic history, not only are Steven Seagal's moves getting much slower, but the action star is actually turning into a parody of himself, glowering humourlessly at everyone around him and speaking as few words as possible in a monotonous speech pattern that hasn't been in style since the '80s. In this non-descript action flick filmed in Toronto and Calgary, Seagal plays an honest, no-holds-barred Detroit cop who, assigned to a new precinct, gets embroiled in a complex conspiracy involving crooked cops and a drug kingpin (rapper DMX) who may not be what he seems. Director Andrzej Bartkowiak, who worked with a much more exciting and limber action star (Jet Li) in Romeo Must Die, benefits strongly from the promising, coolly charismatic performance of DMX and he also draws some laughs from Anthony Anderson (Me, Myself & Irene) as a strip club manager and Tom Arnold, who is essentially playing himself in the role of a sleazy talk show host. At the center of the movie, however, is Seagal, a sluggish void who essentially sucks all thrills and excitement out of the picture, hardly a good thing when one is dealing with such a predictable and ludicrous piece of action nonsense. Under Siege this ain't. (top) (back)

THE EXORCIST - A-
Starring:
Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Linda Blair, Jason Miller, Lee J. Cobb, Kitty Winn, Jack MacGowran
Directed by:
William Friedkin
Horror, 132
min (14A) (Warner Bros., 1973/2000)

Long before the religious horror schlock of films like Stigmata, End of Days and Lost Souls, there was this often-imitated, never-duplicated thriller. Rereleased on video with 11 minutes of additional footage (following a successful theatrical rerelease), The Exorcist remains an intense and shocking picture, with little of its impact having been reduced by the countless imitators, sequels and parodies. For those unfamiliar with the film's pea-soup-spewing storyline, The Exorcist tells the story of Regan (Linda Blair), a 12-year-old whose body is possessed by the Devil, much to the dismay of her mother (Ellen Burstyn) and a troubled priest (Jason Miller) who must confront the demons both within himself and the little girl. Of the additional footage, only a terrifying shot of young Regan walking down the stairs like a spider, blood spewing out of her mouth, is really worth mentioning. Other than that, this is pretty much the same Exorcist you've always loved or, for the faint of heart, stayed away from. (top) (back)

EYE OF THE BEHOLDER - D+
Starring:
Ewan McGregor, Ashley Judd, kd lang, Patrick Bergin, Ann-Marie Brown, Jason Priestley, Genevieve Bujold, Charles Powell
Directed by: Stephan Elliot
Suspense, 101
min (14A) (Columbia Tristar, 2000)

Before they made Double Jeopardy and Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace, Ashley Judd and Ewan McGregor filmed this indecipherable, who-knows-what-the-heck-is-going-on thriller. Directed with attention to style and little else by Stephan Elliot (The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert), Eye of the Beholder tells the story of a professional voyeur named the Eye (McGregor) who falls for a beautiful young woman (Judd) he's been spying on. As he follows her around the country, the Eye falls deeper and deeper in love, apparently overlooking the fact that Judd is a cold-blooded killer prone to slicing up random men and screaming for her dead daddy. Very little - sorry, make that nothing - in Eye of the Beholder makes any sense and the supporting cast, including Jason Priestley as a bottle-blond rapist and Genevieve Bujold as a dominatrix therapist, is laughable. No wonder the film sat on the shelf for two years before it was released. (top) (back)

EYES WIDE SHUT - B-
Starring:
Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Sydney Pollack, Marie Richardson, Thomas Gibson, Leelee Sobieski, Vinessa Shaw, Todd Field
Directed by: Stanley Kubrick
Drama, 159
min (18A) (Warner Bros., 1999)

Sombre, distant and strangely engrossing, Stanley Kubrick's thirteenth and final film is uncompromising when it comes to asking difficult questions about important subjects (love, death, sex). In other words, it is far removed from the type of picture one would watch expecting passionate sex scenes between one of Hollywood's hottest couples or some slam-bang big-budget entertainment. The film casts Tom Cruise as William Hartford, a wealthy physician who, thrown off course by an admission from his wife (Nicole Kidman) that she once contemplated having an affair, embarks in a bizarre night of prostitution, pedophilia and a massive cult-like orgy. All too often, Eyes Wide Shut is hampered by banal dialogue and an emotional indifference (real-life couple Cruise and Kidman are asked to do little more than react), but there is still no denying Kubrick's talent with regards to visuals and tone. Almost as though it were set in a strange dreamworld, Eyes Wide Shut is as thoroughly mesmerizing as it is maddeningly vague. (top) (back)
All reviews by Mike Boon.  

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