by Eric Paolini
I am embarrassed. I call myself a pretty big movie fan yet I have seen very few Steven Soderbergh movies. Sure I've seen the Ocean's trilogy but who hasn't watched a little bit of them on TNT? But besides the Ocean's trilogy and The Informant I have not seen another Soderbergh film.
Why is this embarrassing? Because Soderbergh is one of the premier examples of one of my favorite eras of filmmaking, the independent wave of the late 80's and 90's. Soderbergh, Tarantino, Kevin Smith are usually the big examples of this era. However, I have not seen Sex, Lies, and Videotape. Or Kafka. Or King of the Hill. I haven't even seen one of his more "mainstream" movies like Erin Brockovich.
It is so good that I am kicking myself for not realizing how good Soderbergh is before.
Better question, why am I confessing my lack of Soderbergh film knowledge? Because his latest film, Side Effects, is amazing. It is so good that I am kicking myself for not realizing how good Soderbergh is before.
Somehow this movie is being released among the usual dreck of films that are released at the beginning of the year. Perhaps it's because Soderbergh is so prolific of a filmmaker that it was released now in order to space out release dates. (He's released four movies in the last year and a half). No matter, there is a hidden gem at the theaters right now.
The less you know heading in the better I believe. But this is what you should know. Rooney Mara is fantastic. She is completely unrecognizable from her most known role, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, in part due to the lack of piercings and mohawks. Regardless, she has so many different emotions she has to go through and you believe them all. With how good she was, she still does not top how phenomenal Jude Law was. If this movie was released a few months ago I would bet he would be up for awards. I cannot adequately express how good his performance was. Completely blown away. Other leads, Channing Tatum and Catherine Zeta-Jones, were not as stellar but were good at the very least.
As far as the storyline goes, it builds from a fairly simple premise. A woman gets prescribed some new medication that doesn't have the best effect. That is all I will say. The tone is perfect. The pacing is a bit slow at first but will pick up. I was a bit relieved when the film changed paths a bit at some point in the middle. It appeared to be heading down a preachy path that would hit you over the head with its message. Luckily, that did not happen.
Besides the great acting and storytelling, a great aspect of the film is the questions it will raise. At least, it did for me. Most of them were about the way we treat medicine and psychiatry. Based on that, don't assume that is the only thing the film is about. There's a fantastic story with twists and turns throughout as well. Side Effects is engaging all the way through. And it will stick with you afterwards.
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