Dream Story

Director Anna Ledwich has no need of the resources which Stanley Kubrick had

at his disposal when he transferred Austrian Arthur Schnitzler’s 1926

novella Dream Story to celluloid and renamed it Eyes Wide Shut.

Perhaps not

surprisingly, given the content, his disconcerting extravaganza of erotic

fantasy and humiliation signalled the end of the relationship of its stars,

Tom Cruise and his then wife Nicole Kidman.

With the help of designer Helen Goddard, Ledwich has created a darkly

claustrophobic world of sexual misadventure where Luke Neal’s Fridolin, a

troubled Viennese doctor, confronts the carnal desires he has kept firmly

under wraps until his wife Albertine (Leah Muller) admits to a seemingly

harmless fantasy and forces an equivalent confession from him.

Instead of the psychoanalytic theory one would expect from his contemporary,

Freud, Schnitzler graphically charts Fridolin’s subsequent nightmarish

journey (in which it is never clear how much is real, how much imagined)

which threatens the apparent stability of his marriage.

The dreamlike

quality is accentuated by the doubling of roles, the anonymous sadism of a

masked ball held in the early hours, and the ambiguous, fluctuating nature

of the characters whom he encounters on his odyssey – the women (a bereaved

daughter, a whore and a prostituted young woman) played by Rebecca Scroggs

and the men by a sinister Jon Foster.

With its sliding marital bed and shadowy exits and entrances, this foray

into the private, sordid mindscape of a respectable man – and his growing

fear of the hold it has on him – proves both uncomfortable and compelling.


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– Louise Kingsley