Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

R   |    |  Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Eyes Wide Shut (1999) Poster

A New York City doctor pushes himself on a harrowing and dangerous night-long odyssey of sexual and moral discovery after his wife admits that she once almost cheated on him.

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  • Stanley Kubrick and Nicole Kidman in Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
  • Stanley Kubrick and Tom Cruise in Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
  • Stanley Kubrick in Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
  • Brian Benben at an event for Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
  • Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman in Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
  • Stephen Baldwin at an event for Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

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Reviews & Commentary

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17 July 1999 | Skywise-4
| A fitting completion to Kubrick's study of humanity
I managed to swallow my expectations before the film, setting myself to judge it on its own without judging it as a Kubrick film. No need, no need! This film IS a Kubrick film, without any doubt, and as all Kubrick films are it was absolutely stunning. Absolutely. Visually it is brilliant, though I should warn that this isn't quite as visual a film as most other Kubrick works. A lot of the film focuses on the characters, on human interaction, something rather new to this director. Of course, all the Kubrick trademarks are there, cold analytical gazes, sharp introspection. Tom Cruise seems like Jack Nicholson in 'The Shining' and even Malcolm MacDowell in 'A Clockwork Orange' at times, a rather striking fact considering that this is Tom Cruise. The performances were excellent all around, even from places not expected. Again, this is typical for Kubrick. He wasn't much of a people director, but he still knew how to direct people.

Almost every moment of this film was flawless, perfect and pristine. The dialog is predictable, but in some solemn and holy fateful sort of way, as though the words and the moments are matched so essentially that nothing else could possibly fit. Beyond that the sounds and images all fit together beautifully, creating an almost unblemished whole. The only part that didn't seem right was the sequence that had been digitally altered. While the alterations were not nearly so obtrusive as I had feared (not knowing about them one probably wouldn't notice them) they do grow a bit noticeable for redundancy (you see a lot more backs than you'd expect, and always in the same places). Unfortunately these came right in the middle of one of the most visually amazing pieces of the film (one of the most amazing pieces of cinema as a whole, in my opinion), a very unwelcome distraction.

Is this movie about sex? Yes, it is, but more importantly it is about people. The sex part is simply a product thereof. This is one of the most disturbingly honest portraits of human behavior and motivations ever made. The most honest I've ever seen, at least. To be put simply: It is about sex because people are about sex.

I'm still trying to sort through this movie. It's been a good twelve hours since I saw it, and I can still feel it, hard and definite, rotating in my stomach. The film itself seems mostly void of opinion (not entirely, but mostly), serving more as a general statement and commentary than any specific moral warning, but the questions it inspires are very strong indeed. The film, being objective, provides no answers, no justification for humanity. There is no redemption, either, none whatsoever. The film's final word sums it (it being the film and humanity) up pretty well, for better or for worse. I guess that depends on you.

A common thread in Kubrick's films since 2001 has been the contemplation and examination of human intentions, the essence of human behavior. Motivations. He's shown us violence and madness and everything else, all tracking the path back to the dawn of man. I think he finally figured it out with this film, however anticlimactic the discovery might have been. At least he did finally figure it out. That's something.

I am one of many. I never had the privilege to know Stanley Kubrick. I don't even know that privilege is the right word. I do know his films, though, and while I am in no position to say that I will miss him as a person, I can say, without doubt or hesitation, that I will miss him as a filmmaker.

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Did You Know?


The identity of the masked couple is never explained. It is implied that the masked man with the three-cornered hat might be Victor Ziegler, and the masked woman with him might be another one of his mistresses or escorts greeting the new arrival to the gathering; both of them unaware of who it really is until Bill is forced to take off his mask for the red-cloaked cult leader. There is another theory that it may be Sandor Szavost with a mistress. However, it essentially doesn't really matter who the couple are; what is important is that they have spotted Bill. Of course, when they acknowledge him from the balcony they wouldn't know that it is Bill. It is likely that these masked balls are regular events and that each guest has a specific mask that they always wear. The couple on the balcony almost certainly did not recognize the mask that Bill is wearing and are therefore curious about him. When Bill senses that he is being watched and looks up, the masked man nods at him as if greeting him and Bill nods in return. After the opening ceremony is over, the masked man would probably then check on who this newcomer is which leads to Bill being tracked down and ultimately being led before the cult leader. Also of note, the masked man with the three-cornered hat is briefly seen again in another room of the house, where he appears with the now-nude masked woman in which he whispers something to her to approach Bill while he leaves the room.


Dr. Bill Harford: Honey, have you seen my wallet?
Alice Harford: Isn't it on the bedside table?
Dr. Bill Harford: Now listen, you know we're running a little late.
Alice Harford: I know. How do I look?
Dr. Bill Harford: Perfect.
Alice Harford: Is my hair okay?
Dr. Bill Harford: It's great.
Alice Harford: You're not even looking at it.
Dr. Bill Harford: It's beautiful. You always look beautiful.


At Victor's party, when Alice responds to Sandor's explanation of why women get married, she momentarily slips into an Australian accent (which is Nicole Kidman's native accent) when she says, "Fascinating."

Crazy Credits

Special thanks to the staff of Hamleys of London.

Alternate Versions

In most non-English language versions translated copies of the letter Dr. Harford recieves when returning to the front gate of the house with the "forbidden party" and of the newspaper article about the ex-Miss N.Y., Mandy, were shot and replaced the original English text.


Jazz Suite, Waltz 2
Performed by
Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest (as Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra)
Conducted by Riccardo Chailly
Courtesy of The Decca Record Company Limited
Under license from Universal Music Special Markets
Written by Dmitri Shostakovich
Published by Boosey & Hawkes Music Publishers Ltd


Plot Summary

Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Drama | Mystery | Thriller

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