Since that Liberace movie premiered on cable television in America, Side Effects becomes Steven Soderbergh’s last big screen directorial venture. If it is his final big screen motion picture, wow! What a finish.
Even though the trailer is embedded below, forget what you will see, because the movie is not as advertised. Well a little bit, but not that much. This is a movie Alfred Hitchcock would have made if he was still alive. And it would have been one of his finer efforts.
According to all the marketing spiel this is a movie about the ill effects of over-medication. Sure, that side of things makes an appearance in the movie. But not in the way you might think. I don’t know if it will happen but if I am ever in the same room as him, I would like to shake writer Scott Z. Burns’s hand and tell him that Side Effects is a movie I wish I had written.
The performances by Jude Law and Rooney Mara are amazing. Catherine Zeta-Jones is a little arch but that turns out to be in the service of the script. This is a movie that rewards patience, and demands that you pay attention. Not all of it is a Shyamalan-style magic trick. If you pay attention there are clues, and a few red herrings as well.
Mr. Soderbergh takes his time, so the first ‘movement’ takes a while to find its rhythm. And that is when the most audience fidgeting is likely. Because who really wants to watch a depressed woman mope around, and grope her way to some state of balance, right?
Well you should keep watching. And when that second movement kicks in you’re going to be riveted. The film looks amazing and is cut in that Soderberghian style that I have really come to enjoy. While I don’t want to say more and ruin the surprise I will say this: this is not a movie just about a woman coping with depression. And that ‘so much more’ is where all the fun stuff awaits you.
Final Analysis: Box office really does not reward clever filmmaking. This is what people should mean when they say the words Intelligent Thriller. Bravo Mr. Soderbergh, way to go out at the top of your game.
My Advice: By the time the final credits roll you will have been scared, surprised, and left–finally–with a sense of triumph (or maybe that was just me). Seek this film out, it is worth it.