Movie Review #405: Side Effects

An intriguing story bolstered by great cinematography, acting and score

My first Steven Soderbergh film was quite satisfying. It might not have exceeded my expectations, but having known of the high praise attached to his works, Side Effects managed to be on point with what people were saying. It’s compelling, well-acted and simply effective in telling a great story.

The film stars Rooney Mara, Jude Law, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Channing Tatum, all of which delivered great performances; especially Law, whose character serves as the binding force that glues the four of them together. They are more likely to be anti-heroes than anything, and it’s up to the viewer to decide whom to back up. Their backstories are intriguing and as I followed their interwoven lives it made me care about them much more.

The story provides enough twists and turns for a psychological thriller. They introduce important plot elements in an intelligent manner as well, and it recaptures your attention during moments where the story was the weakest. These only occurred a few times though and it doesn’t have a lot of bearing in terms of personal enjoyment.

Side Effects also benefited from the fantastic work done in cinematography by Soderbergh under the pseudonym Peter Andrews. I liked the positioning of the camera and the angles it used and it made me seem like I was eavesdropping on the conversations. The hyper-focusing on the characters talking ensures that your attention is drawn towards them. Together with Thomas Newman’s score, the movie generates a feeling of suppressed depression allowing you to somewhat experience the effects of a powerful drug yourself. The plot was enough to warrant a good film, but with some artistic work done, it not only just looks and feels better. It is better.


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