After attending a Christmas party that results in an argument with his wife (Nicole Kidman), New York doctor Bill Harford (Tom Cruise) leaves their apartment and is ultimately tempted to go to a mysterious engagement at a country mansion… Stanley Kubrick’s last movie became his biggest commercial hit because of the leads’ star charisma and the film’s sexual themes. A project decades in the making, the story puts a marriage to a test, with key scenes set at the mansion where advanced, masked role playing takes place. Long, slow but fascinating, claustrophobic and erotic in awkward ways. We never learn the full truth about events, but they get our imagination going.
1999-U.S. 154 min. Color. Produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick. Screenplay: Stanley Kubrick, Frederic Raphael. Novel: Arthur Schnitzler (“Dream Story”). Cinematography: Larry Smith. Music: Jocelyn Pook. Cast: Tom Cruise (Bill Harford), Nicole Kidman (Alice Harford), Sydney Pollack (Victor Ziegler), Marie Richardson, Todd Field, Lisa Leone… Alan Cumming.
Trivia: Harvey Keitel and Jennifer Jason Leigh were originally cast in two roles, but had to drop out. The novel was also filmed for West German and Austrian TV in 1969, and as an Italian movie in 1989.
Last word: “It was funny how [Kubrick] was truly optimistic about the schedule. I’d show up on the set and we’d find ourselves singing a song, goofing around, and we’d rehearse the scene, and he’d ask, ‘What are we gonna shoot the rest of the week?’ And I’d say, ‘Oh, Stanley, please don’t say that!’ Because at the end of the week, we’d still be working on that same scene, and he would laugh at himself.” (Cruise, RogerEbert.com)