From the Chicago Reader (July 6, 2001). — J.R.
A collaboration between the living Steven Spielberg and the late Stanley Kubrick seems entirely appropriate to a project that reflects profoundly on the differences between life and nonlife, not to mention the human and the nonhuman. It’s easy to say that Kubrick thought about questions that Spielberg only knows how to approach emotionally, but that surely oversimplifies the range of both filmmakers. A more accurate way of putting it would be to say that Kubrick started this picture and came up with the idea that Spielberg should direct it, and after inheriting a 90-page treatment Kubrick had prepared with Ian Watson and 600 drawings he’d done with Chris Baker, Spielberg finished it in so much his own manner that it may be his most personal film, as well as his most thoughtful. It nonetheless delivers more of a posthumous statement from Kubrick than I would have believed possible, a sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey and even Eyes Wide Shut (with an equally offbeat view of New York) as well as Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. A film that might make you cry, it’s just as likely to give you the creeps afterward, which is as it should be. It’s hard to think of a more important theme than the definition and survival (or nonsurvival) of the human. This is a movie people will be arguing about for many years to come. With Haley Joel Osment, Frances O’Connor, Jude Law, Sam Robards, Jake Thomas, and William Hurt. Burnham Plaza, Century 12 and CineArts 6, Chatham 14, Davis, Ford City, Gardens, Golf Glen, Lincoln Village, McClurg Court, Norridge, North Riverside, Village North, Webster Place, Wilmette.