Starring: Jude Law (Sherlock Holmes), Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Catherine Zeta-Jones (Chicago), Channing Tatum (Magic Mike)
Director: Steven Soderbergh (Ocean’s Eleven)
Writer: Scott Z. Burns (Contagion)
Runtime: 1 hour 46 minutes
Release Date: 8 February (US), 8 March (UK)
Side Effects is supposedly Steven Soderbergh’s final theatrical release (his true final film, Behind the Candelabra, has been relegated to an HBO TV movie). Is this the swansong such a renowned director deserves, or is it a final effort not worth remembering?
The plot of Side Effects is so full of twists and turns that I can’t even describe the basics without spoiling pretty much everything; you just have to see it for yourself. Just know that the trailers are throwing you for a loop and this is a much deeper and darker film than the marketing is letting on. Whilst the film starts pretty slow, a particular scene about a third of the way through (one that got the entire audience I saw it with to gasp) suddenly creates a huge turn and immediately got me intrigued and invested in the story. From there, the movie really kicks into gear and is a story that will be very hard for anyone to predict. I can’t say much more; now go see it for yourselves.
The cast does a great job with their roles; none of the main players disappoint. Law plays obsessive well, and his frenzied nature and inability to comprehend what is going on perfectly matches the state of mind most of the audience should be in. Mara gives her arguably the best performance of her career in a role that I think most actresses would struggle with due to its complexity, but she pulls it off perfectly natural. Zeta-Jones, whilst possibly a bit too suspicious at times, also gives her best performance in a long time. Tatum isn’t in the movie as long as the marketing tries to convince you he is, but in his brief time he also manages to emote much more than he averagely does.
Soderbergh has a very distinct but simple style to his movies, and that is all over Side Effects. Whilst the movie does have that graded look that a lot of Soderbergh movies have had recently where everything is tinted urine-yellow, it isn’t as strong or distracting as it was in Magic Mike or Contagion. The cinematography is pretty basic but effective, whilst the music fits the odd style the film is going for.
Side Effects is the first truly great movie of the year and is Soderbergh’s best film in a quite a while. The story is intriguing if occasionally confusing and the central performances are all very strong. All in all, Soderbergh couldn’t ask for a better movie to close his curtain on.
FINAL VERDICT: 9/10