Sure, Stanley Kubrick’s final film is largely about a dark voyage through a menacing sexual underworld, but it starts at a Christmas party and ends at a toy store. Of course, that Christmas party sees a suave European guy try very hard to tempt Nicole Kidman into adultery while her husband, Dr. Tom Cruise, is tending to a naked, overdosing party girl. Brilliant holiday lights and glittering ornaments are everywhere in the movie’s yuletide Manhattan, from that opening party to the seedy haunts of Greenwich Village – so bright that it becomes hard for Cruise to tell night from day.
Perhaps all the flashy holiday décor is a reminder of what lies just beneath the surface – the roiling sexuality beneath all the well-mannered behavior of party guests, the pagan Saturnalia beneath the Christian winter holiday trappings, and the animal passions beneath a thin veneer of civilization. Or maybe Kubrick just thought all the lights looked pretty.
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