ACT ONE A Game of Dominoes. Fidelio.
After leaving the apartment, Bill walks down the street and pounds his fist at the thought of the Naval Officer having sexual contact with his wife. Soon his internal conflicts with his manhood (i.e. "what kind of man loses his woman?") are manifested externally by a group of hard-on fratboys who walk down the street gabbing about "Mexican lapdances," and then start taunting and shoving Bill, calling him "machoman" and "loverboy" and basically calling him gay. Kubrick presents us with an interesting picture of two different ways in which men handle their own sexual fears -- self-abasement and ridicule of others. However, the stupid display doesn't do Bill any good, as he almost immediately decides to accept a (rather comely) hooker's offer to "come inside." (Red door!) He seems to want to use this as some sort of proving ground or retribution, both against the claims made by the pricks outside and as some sort of chest-puffing device against his wife's wandering mind, and what he has now convinced himself was an actual event (with all the imagining Bill does, we are led to believe the Naval Officer really slept with Alice.)

Bill enters Domino's apartment (a blue baby stroller waits outside) and seems very nervous, talking about money right off hand. It's like he's never even seen a woman naked, and he won't even tell her what he wants her to do to him, and asks what she "recommends." Domino finds this kind of strange, but she thinks about it and says "Well, I'd rather not put it into words." Then a fee is discussed ($150) and they "get to it." The next scene is of Domino and Bill in Domino's room, where AFRICAN MASKS LINE THE WALLS. Obviously, I think this is pretty important, especially in the next few hours, and upon seeing these details I couldn't help but smile and think "Stanley, you magnificent bastard!" They're of the same style that was found in Nathanson's house, but they're abundant here, along with many mirrors, lights, and a Sociology textbook. (She's probably working as a hooker to pay off a student loan!)

We can now see what Bill has in mind. After the episode with Marion, Bill has realized a way to get back at his wife for her thoughts. He goes to Domino and puts on a mask -- a nameless mask, but a mask that he thinks makes him a man; that he thinks proves a point; that he thinks will let him beat his true feelings. "You're in my hands," says Domino, and Bill is truly losing his grip on reality, and we see his slackening control. Bill seems to be the tool of the women in this film (not that there's anything wrong with that,) but we really feel that that's how Bill is supposed to be, and that's the only way he can really stay in control: when Alice is in control of him. When he starts to go out alone, that's when he gets it in the keister.

After a very sweet kiss that I think Bill both enjoyed and was terrified of, his phone rings and Alice (poor woman, who sits at home in a blue nightgown, smoking, and eating Snackwell's while watching a movie on tv) wonders to him when he will ever get home. He says he is still visiting the grieving Nathansons. . .ah hah! He's still with the dead body? Perhaps he is. . .perhaps the world of consumer sex is like death. . .sex with no love might as well be sex with a corpse. Bill realizes this, in a Freudian manner (oy vey) and yet he still goes for it. "Was that Mrs. Dr. Bill?" says Domino, lounging with her stuffed tiger (keep that in mind.) "Yes." He stops the affair with Domino for that evening, but he will continue in the future.

As much as we shouldn't like the hooker, who tears Bill away from his wife and daughter, she's really really nice and innocent-seeming. Bad fashion sense, (though she is a hooker) but least she gets her money.

Anyway, on his way home, Bill just "happens" to wind up in the freakin' Village, and wanders into the Sonata Café, where his ol' pal Nick Nightingale is tickling the ivories in a pretty banal jazz band. The door is opened for Bill by a stocky bald man -- the bouncer, apparently -- and this is something that Bill learns to be wary of. I think Bill's motto should be "never trust a bald man," as we will see.

Well the Sonata Café turns out to be the sort of lurking place of secrets in this film, and the place is simply covered in RED RED RED, which, from now on, is the motif. Red=degradation in the world of EYES WIDE SHUT, and the café and Somerton are drowning in it, but we'll go into that later. Another thing: there are these little signs plastered all over the place - "ALL EXITS ARE FINAL." Good lord. I really do think Stanley knew this was his last one.

Bill enters and is shown to a table, behind which sits a man that's caused a bit of controversy lately on alt.movies.kubrick: he's a bit of a Kubrick look-alike, and I'd been pretty hasty to say it was, indeed, Kubrick on this site. Recently, Katharina Kubrick Hobbs, Stanley's daughter (and a lovely, good-humored lady), has given us the pleasure of both her company and commentary on our humble newsgroup. She said that it is not Kubrick in the background, but in fact she herself and her son are in the film (the mother and son in Bill's office) and Kubrick's assistant Emilio D'Alessandro plays the man at the newsstand later in the film. So, this isn't Kubrick, and I'm kind of happy about that. But that guy wasn't randomly picked, either! Kubrick knew we'd freak!

Regardless of all that, Bill and Nick shoot the breeze for a while, and then Nick starts flapping his jaw about the "mysterious job" that he works every week. "I play blindfolded," Nick says, and I sort of expect Bill to shout "Hey! Me too!" but then we'd have no movie. So then comes the word: fidelio. An opera by Beethoven, yes. But Bill knows it means "fidelity." He's a doctor. You have to be smart to be a doctor. For the most part. And yet he says "WHAT IS THAT?" Ha! Brilliant. Bill has no idea about fidelity. He doesn't know the difference between his wife's cheating mind and his cheating hands. His eyes are wide shut. It's perfection.

Next ->