Eyes Wide Shut (You Ain’t Kiddin’)

>> Friday, August 17, 2007

I don’t watch many movies anymore (too much to do, it’s too expensive, and the kids prevent me from seeing all the satisfying R-rated flicks in the theater...) So, nerds that we are, we occasionally check movies out at the library and watch them after the girls go to bed. It usually takes us about 3 days to get through a full-length feature. Welcome to parenthood.

We finally got around to watching Eyes Wide Shut, which I looked forward to seeing because Kubrick directed it and rumor had it there would be sex in the film (titter, titter). However, this movie made me realize, once and for all, just how ridiculous sex is.

The main character, Dr. Bill, indulges in sexual infidelity after his wife reveals she had a one night stand with an unknown naval officer some years ago. (Although, I’m still unclear whether she actually had the affair, only wanted to, or perhaps just dreamt the whole thing. Whatever.) I should say he attempts to indulge in infidelity -- the poor guy never actually gets laid by anyone except his wife. This guy finds himself at sex’s door over and over again, only to have it slammed in his face repeatedly.

I don’t feel too sorry for him, though, but not because he’s trying to cheat on his wife. While infidelity is not my favorite characteristic in a husband, the cheating male has been handled with much more soul in other movies. Dan, from Fatal Attraction, still loved his wife -- he just screwed up royally. I’m not sure if Dr. Bill even has a soul, although he would bend over backwards (or have you bend over) to prove otherwise.

Dr. Bill wreaks with entitlement and is totally convinced of his own goodness. Prostitute, who I’ve known for 8 minutes, please take my $150 even though we didn’t have sex. Why? Because I’m such a people person and I can see what a good person you are. No, please take it! After all, I’m a hell of a guy. Really, I am.

More than anything, Dr. Bill loves showing off his doctor status and expects people to break all sorts of rules because if it. I know it’s after midnight and your costume shop is closed, but I’m a doctor so I’m sure my status, pretentious manner, and big fat wallet will get me in the door. Right?


Despicably, the film rewards his sense of entitlement over and over again. Dr. Bill proudly shows what I assume is some medical ID card, which people in the movie liken to a police badge and act accordingly. A stereotypically gay hotel clerks delivers private information about a former guest. A waitress reveals a private address. An old friend risks his job to be in the doctor’s good graces. This magical doctor ID opens just about every door and pair of legs it comes across.

So what about Mrs. Dr. Bill? She is, without a doubt, beautiful. (There, I said something nice.) But a warm, compassionate wife and mother? Mmm, not so much. The couple has a daughter (although I could never in a million years imagine Kidman going through labor). Every scene with the child feels obligatory and unconvincing. Are we really supposed to believe that Mrs. Dr. Bill is a good mother because she awkwardly wraps presents with her daughter and teaches her how to solve math problems? This is the same woman who considered giving up her husband, her life, and even her daughter, to follow a naval officer she passed briefly in the hallway. (He must have been wearing some killer Old Spice.)

Mrs. Dr. Bill also pulls a very annoying female maneuver. She asks Dr. Bill if he wanted to have sex with two cute models he met at a party. (Well, duh.) Of course, she asks this in such a threatening tone that he smartly answers in the negative. “I would not have sex with them because I’m married and because I love you.” (Yea, whatever.) She then accuses him of lying and gets mad at him for it. This is what every man fears. Cruise should have taken a cue from another movie and said, “You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!”

Seriously, reality needs to kick these two in the cajones.

But even though they argue, cry, and have sex, there is no passion in their passion. Dr. and Mrs. Bill are like robotrons. They go through the motions; say all the right things; smile and frown at all the appropriate times. But still, something’s not right. It’s as if no blood courses through their veins; they generate no warmth.

Which could be why they talk so slowly. Throughout the movie I kept thinking, talk faster! The ponderous, stilted dialog was simply torture. As the MST3K guys once said, “I can hear the trains running through that pause...” Since we watched this movie on DVD at our home, it was all I could do to keep from playing the movie 1.5 speed.

On a positive note, Mrs. Dr. Bill’s portrayal of getting high has convinced me to NEVER SMOKE POT AGAIN, EVER! If you want to discourage your kids from smoking pot, show them the scene of Dr. and Mrs. Bill in the bedroom where her bizarre fit of laughter looks more like someone is violently punching her in the stomach.

Also, if you want to discourage your kids from participating in group sex, this movie can help you there, as well. In one scene, Dr. Bill gains access to a highly secret sex mansion. One protruding nymphet in particular has taken a liking to him, even though she’s never actually talked to him, listened to his thoughts on politics, baseball, religion or even knows whether he likes hard or soft-shelled tacos. Nevertheless, when he gets caught for intruding, she risks something (we’re never actually sure what she risks, but we assume it’s bad) just to save his life.

She stands there, naked, pleading, “Spare him. Set him free!”

A man wearing a red cloak, holding a staff, and sitting on a throne (I kid you not) asks, “Are you willing to pay the price?”

“Yes,” she declares, thrusting out her boobies in noble defiance.

Oh, pa-lease. But I guess that shouldn’t surprise me in a world where everyone is an idiot. Of course Dr. Bill worries about the naked woman he doesn’t actually know (although I’m sure he could tell you her cup size and whether she prefers a “landing strip” or “goatee”.) But wait, I forgot -- he’s such a nice guy. He cares about people.

And on and on it goes.

A friend of mine said she felt dirty after watching the film. I did, too, but it wasn’t the sex that made me feel dirty. Instead, the movie itself hates sex. I kept watching the film, wondering if it would become aware of itself. But this isn’t a film about people who are scared of sex and who explore their fears of it, which would be interesting and helpful. Instead, without meaning to, the movie reflects our ridiculous relationship with sex. It shows us how easily offended and how thoroughly confused we are by our sexuality.

Which, I suppose, isn’t so bad, after all.

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