Steven Soderbergh’s filmography reads like a true cinematic almanac of the past 20 years. Landmark stuff such as “Traffic”, “Out Of Sight”, “Sex, Lies And Videotape”, “Ocean’s Eleven”, “The Limey” and “Erin Brokovich” have given the enigmatic director a truly unique style. So it is sad to hear him say that his latest film –Side Effects- will be his last one and that he will start focusing more on producing and TV. Well if he’s going out, it’s with a real bang. “Side Effects” might just be the twistiest, most playful film of his career. An homage to Hitchcock of sorts. To reveal the plot would be the same as explaining to a newbie what Hitchcock’s Psycho is about, you just don’t say anything. You want to know as little as possible about the film going into it, its guilty pleasures are surprising to say the least.
This is probably the best big studio movie I’ve seen so far in 2013, which doesn’t say much considering its competition is non-existent. Even though “Side Effects” is easily the best Hollywood has come up with so far this year, don’t sweat into thinking it’ll make it to the big dance at the Kodak theatre come next March. Soderbergh’s film is not about awards, it is instead about cinematic jolts and it’s got plenty of them in its 100 minute running time.
The actors do a great job, starting with Rooney Mara as a depressive-suicidal ad agent who’s husband just got out of jail. Mara, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and The Social Network, is an actress with a very bright future. The roles she picks have serious depth and the directors she chooses to work with are very talented. She is fast becoming one of my favourite actresses around and in this particular film you can feel the anger, passion and angst that consumes her on a daily basis. It’s an emotionally charged performance that again impressed me a whole lot. Ditto Jude Law, who’s been MIA the last few years -what with that whole babysitter scandal- but he brings here real dark humor to his lead role as a psychiatrist prescribing meds left and right. I almost forgot just how good of an actor he is, if there is anyone in this film that deserves a nomination it’s him.
This is an entertaining time at the movies and the way Soderbergh handles the camera fully justifies some of the absurd directions the screenplay goes to, especially at the film’s end (WTF). That very screenplay could have used some more polish to explain a little better some of the more dumbfounding plot holes. Nevertheless, this is just really well done filmmaking from a director that is a master at his craft. Soderbergh has had a great impact on American cinema in the past 25 years, he is one of the few American directors left that I would truly consider as an “auteur”. I hope this this isn’t the last we hear of him.
Soderbergh has made 23 films in his filmmaking career. Everyone has a different Soderbergh film they would consider underrated, I have 3; “The Girlfriend Experience”, “Solaris” and “The Limey”. What are some of your favourites?