Tom Cruise and especially Nicole Kidman turn in committed performances, you’re sucked into their interactions and dilemmas, and they have a solid chemistry.
Despite a major element being the two leads’ marriage, Kidman seems to be pushed aside as the plot continues, which is a shame because her early scenes are fantastic.
Kidman is stellar in three specific scenes: the best friend’s party, that argument in the bedroom where she lashes out at Cruise, and when she recalls her unsettling premonition-like dream.
There are a few interesting side characters, such as the Hungarian gentleman at the party and the colourfully odd Mr Milich.
The “masked ball” sequence is extraordinarily captivating, putting you in a firm trance while Jocelyn Pook’s unbelievably haunting score sends chills through the body.
Kubrick does well diving into the struggles that comes with marriage, or any relationship in general, covering the likes of trust, doubt, and past mental scars.
Larry Smith’s cinematography is mostly great and tends to fit the current mood of the scene, although there are a couple of moments where the camera work is noticeably rough and janky, and distractingly so.
The music is wonderful and dignified, with the main theme being memorable, but the repeated piano verses get tiresome after a while.
There’s a magnetic drawing power that radiates from the story, sparking quite early on and being maintained for a long time, but unfortunately it begins to waver in the last third; everything after Nicole Kidman’s nightmare is where it struggles.
Ultimately the payoff is logically sound yet lackluster, with much build-up spent and headed towards very little, almost as if nothing is resolved, and it goes out on a disappointing whimper.