I went to the screening on opening night in Manhattan, and it was funny to see all the people there who had spent the day shopping and were now coming to see this "sexy, hot, trendy new movie." Boy were they disappointed.
It's also funny to hear everyone going on about they just ADORE Kubrick when you know fewer than an eighth have any idea what his films are about. That's what I love about America.
This movie is VERY UNSEXY. I think Kubrick purposely deadened the eroticism in order for the audience to engage (if there are any members of the audience willing to engage) in the psychological aspects of the story. If you're going to see a sexfest with Tom and Nicole, you are definitely in the wrong place.
Here's my interpretation: [which will describe the complete plot, but it's not like there's some big "rosebud" at the end here] Tom is an erotically unaware person. The first line is his wife asking how she looks, and he answers "great" without looking at her.
They go to a party, where they get split up. She gets drunk and flirts with a suave Hungarian, who makes no bones about that he wants to do her. She refuses. At one point she looks over and sees Tom flirting with two other women.
The next night Tom and Nicole get stoned, and she picks a fight, asking him why he wasn't jealous of her with that man. He says "because you're my wife." She is incensed that he doesn't appreciate the devotion she is showing him, and he assumes her fidelity is just a matter of course. She tells him of a naval officer she once saw who she fantasized about, and whom thought she would have given up Tom and their child for one night with.
At this point it's as though Tom's eyes are opened to an entire level of sexuality that he has previously been blind to. He walks the streets, encountering various people and situations, while he goes through feelings of anger and revenge as he processes the feelings this unknown side of his wife has brought up.
Something happens out there to scare him very deeply, and it is made clear to him that his peaceful life with his wife is not at all assured, and is something he must appreciate and fight for. They have a final conversation, in which they decide that they must be still have their dreams and fantasies, but also keep their eyes open to what the implications of those fantasies are (hence the title).
To me it's a very sweet, personal and ultimately loving film. I think it's also important that the main characters be as flat as possible, while the supporting characters are quite vivid. Ultimately I think it was a wonderful, very psychological and literary film.
But if you want sex and thrills, this is definitely NOT your movie.
Yes. It's a great film. Though you might not like it.