Steven Soderbergh has always kept me at the edge of my seat, be it the ingenious Oceans trilogy or the Oscar-snatching drama Traffic. Ofcourse he’s also done documentary-esque offbeat dramas like The Girlfriend Experience and Magic Mike, purely to please fans of the opposite sex. He could handle an ensemble cast with ease as evident from Oceans Eleven or the much recent Haywire. He is no stranger to action or comedy. Side Effects is no different and he hasn’t let me down with it either.
I was initially lazy about watching this movie but once I started getting the gist of it, it was impossible to wander my eyes off it. I don’t know how Soderbergh does it but It’d always been so. As for the plot, its next to impossible to talk about Side Effects without giving away much. I’d seen very less of the previews and I had no idea what I was being dragged into and it worked wonders for me. I suggest you do the same if you are going to watch this movie; the lesser you know the better it’ll be. I was mistaken that it was a satirical drama about modern-day psychological drugs and antidepressants. If you’ve seen Contagion you’d know what I am talking about here. The first half of the movie is purely disguised so. Slide into the second half, its everything but. The cinematography was spot on, the hues that creeped-in in each scene added a surrealistic effect. Being partially a psychological drama, at times you’d question yourself if you are watching real scenes being unfolded as the plot progresses or if you are inside a persons head churning up these stuff.
Rooney Mara plays a girl who’s a victim of constant depression. The scenes where she shows her depression leading to the 3rd act is nothing short of spellbinding. The outstanding performance by Rooney Mara is only and slightly overshadowed by Jude Law’s. In Contagion we saw him as a crazy blogger/conspiracy tweeter while here we saw him as a smart doctor. There are moments when you doubt whether a particular character is gray. It was impossible to tell if the characters in this movie were good or bad.
There is a lot going on in this movie and I have been reading that people were slightly put off with the transition from the more character oriented first half to a more formulaic second half. Its a bit gimmicky towards the 3rd act, I agree, but it felt like reading a book and by the end of it all the payoff was great. This could be the Soderbergh fan inside me saying that its great but its never rendered unwatchable, in fact I cant emphasize how good it is. There are some totally unexpected twists but it doesnt hit you like a bolt like those other movies, it takes its time, the time you’ve invested in the first half with well-written characters is atoned. Along with Thomas Newman’s haunting score, this should be atop the list of movies you’re yet to watch. Cant recommend it highly enough. Go see this movie now.
A gratuitous sex scene which involves Rooney Mara and Channing Tatum in the nude, at first thought could have been avoidable but then again as the narrative progresses you’ll understand why the scene was relevant.