Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. United Kingdom/USA, 1999. Warner Bros., Stanley Kubrick Productions, Hobby Films, Pole Star. Screenplay by Stanley Kubrick, Frederic Raphael, inspired by a novel by Arthur Schnitzler. Cinematography by Larry Smith. Produced by Stanley Kubrick. Music by Jocelyn Pook. Production Design by Leslie Tomkins, Roy Walker. Costume Design by Marit Allen. Film Editing by Nigel Galt. Golden Globe Awards 1999.
Fascinating final film by Stanley Kubrick requires mountains of patience but is rewarding. Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman play a happy ‘vanilla American’ couple whose stability is thrown to the wind when she tells him about a sexual fantasy she once had about a stranger, a man so attractive she had been willing to drop her husband and child without ever even having met him. Cruise is stunned by this revelation, and finds himself spiraling downwards into a dreamlike night of strange near-sexual encounters that could be real or could just be happening in his mind. The mood is a creepy look at the fear that is going through Cruise’s mind, matched by an appropriate mellow pace, but there are moments when you feel there is slack that could have been chopped off. The film was the most famous thing in Tinseltown for years because of its excessive shooting schedule (two years of filming and reshoots), the undisclosed nature of the story and the many rumours of off-screen life between its then-married co-stars. During the long filming schedule Jennifer Jason Leigh’s scenes were scrapped and replaced by Marie Richardson, and Harvey Keitel’s role was filmed and then redone with Sydney Pollack. The result is a mixed bag of surprises, sometimes brilliant (the scene with Leelee Sobieski) , sometimes not (the fact that Kidman isn’t in more scenes), but still the mark of a genius.