Well, now, for the sort of post-climactic-pre-denouement-climax: Bill comes home again, late in the dark hours, and, after turning off his Christmas tree and downing a brewski while gazing into a huge painting of a garden, finds his wife sleeping on royal purple sheets, with her arm resting on the figure next to her. It is a bodiless mask, lying where Bill's head should be, and yet Alice seems perfectly content. This destroys Bill emotionally: he realizes what he's done, he realizes all his errors, he realizes the difference between a dream and reality. His wife dreamed about another man, but Bill actually sought out sex; he put on a mask and he lived beneath its perverted skin and sacrificed a beautiful relationship. All the jealousy, the duplicity, the anger and spite had ruined everything. You happy, Bill? You win, he seems to say. Alice has her "man" now. Bill breaks into tears and, waking Alice up in an almost surreal scene (it's very realistic, though -- it really evokes those weird hallucinations that occur between eyes shut and eyes wide) tells her "I'll tell you everything, I'll tell you everything." By the way -- I don't know how the mask got there. I'm still looking for an explanation myself. The best I've heard (and most Kubrickian, though it's almost Hawthornian) is that the mask wasn't actually there, but instead it was symbolic of Bill's guilt; something all in his mind. I think that's a beautiful theory, and I'm very interested to hear a better one.

The next shot is pretty interesting -- one of those Kubrickian "hippie head shots" and yet this time reserved for a woman -- it's almost like Nicholson's in The Shining. She looks pretty bad (for Nicole Kidman) -- she's obviously been up all night crying, and she's got plenty left -- a shaky hand holds a flaking cigarette in classic style, and she stares into the camera with a "How could you do this to me?" look. She almost looks like Shelly Duvall in The Shining, being destroyed emotionally by her husband's "lack of muscular coordination." She says that Helena will be up soon, and that they had to take her Christmas shopping. "We promised her," she says.

In the final scene, Helena leads Alice through a melee of consumeristic glory, an FAO Schwartz type toy store with huge stuffed animals everywhere and bubbles floating through the air. Bill trails meekly behind. Whenever Helena picks up a toy, Alice plasters on a fake smile and says "Oh, boy" or "maybe Santa will bring you that" or such drivel, and then turns to Bill and talks about what they will do. Interestingly, they pass a stack of board games called "THE MAGIC CIRCLE". . .do the math. Any "circles" come to mind here? Bill seemed to enjoy his circle game, until he became the monkey in the middle. They also walk by puppets and a baby carriage -- "that's old-fashioned," says Alice, and then casts a posionous look at Bill. There is much that might be implied by this toy store -- are Alice and Bill living in a childish world of lies and games? Is their relationship only material? What the HELL is Kubrick saying? I don't know, though I've heard it's a reference to his proposed follow up film, A.I., based on the Brian Aldiss story Super Toys Last All Summer Long. That's a pretty speculative guess, though, and pretty Lucas-like for Kubrick, but anything's possible. Could just be that Alice's final advice here makes it all a big board game. Helena (whose name pops up in Freud -- Helena is the island Napoleon was banished to) finally picks up a toy and makes a decision of what she really wants: a Barbie doll. The man's view of the perfect woman constructed of cheap plastics. Just what Bill wants, right? Now it seems that Helena, who originally wore angel wings and stood for innocence and sanity througout, now is growing up, too. Another one bites the dust.

Bill and Alice separate themselves from Helena long enough to talk - Alice tells Bill that they will go on (though "forever" frightens her) and that "the reality of one night, let alone that of a whole lifetime, can't be the whole truth."

"And no dream. . .is just a dream," says Bill. Alice shrugs this off.

Notice what sits behind Alice as she utters this last line: the same stuffed tiger that lounged on Domino's bed.

". . .there's something we have to do as soon as possible," says Alice.

"What?" Bill says.


I love it. A brilliant Kubrickian ending. "We were in a world of shit, yes, but we were alive, and we were not afraid." Reminds me a lot of that.

Simply put, they would have to consort to the lowest form of human interaction. It would no longer be lovemaking or even sex, but just fucking. A duty, a game. All Bill's fault.

Don't fool yourself! Nothing's ever all anybody's fault! Alice was to blame as well, as could be evidenced by the tiger. This connection screams "whore!" But I think Kubrick was just trying to say "These are humans fucking each other up really royal. Just because there's no A-Bomb, no Singin' in the Rain, no firing squads, doesn't mean that this isn't the same sort of tragedy. People are both the most evil thing on the planet and the most beautiful, and it's our job to make a decision and hope we can stick it out."

In Conclusion ->