It's easy to have a knee-jerk hateful reaction to a character constructed so vacantly, and I'm not even sure if the film's ideas are well thought out, but its pretentiousness and airiness kind of click for me. Natalie Portman's performance reminds me of any number of Daniel-Day Lewis's acclaimed ones, which means that it's a rigid show of technicality, without much intuition. The difference is here, the film's muddled mess of self-contradictory dialogues helps her performance because it destabilizes it, whereas Daniel Day-Lewis's characters are always presented as impenetrable armor in scripts that do not allow for reflexivity.
Most audiences, and some commentators here, respond expectedly that these people are just entitled and delusional. But might I say that it's not what the director intend at all? Indeed, I feel for them right from the start. These are not the "rich people" archetypes. They are not vicious, they are humane.
It's hard for me not to imagine the making of 12 Years A Slave as a way for Steve McQueen to bitch-slap Steven Spielberg. If Spielberg's Lincoln was an attempt to sugarcoat the deplorable corruption at its heart, then 12 Years A Slave is the equivalent of a bath salt, shamelessly exhibiting its masochism without the slightest hint of irony. Familiar dramatic tropes pumped out, one after another, and the same statement is reiterated over and over again: If you…
Eyes Wide Shut is actually the most interesting Kubrick film (though not necessarily his best). Not grandiose, like 2001. Not stinging, like that despicable Clockwork Orange. But it slaps you hard at your D and that is exactly the kind of thing that I root for (well, you may say that is because I know it will turn off many other people, so I laugh simultaneously at the film, the characters and the easy-going audiences all at the same time).
A major influence on Jonathan Glazer's Birth, which also stars Nicole Kidman and which I ironically prefer (because it is somewhat more tricky).