So long, and thanks for all the fish, Steve Soderbergh.
The cinematic maestro’s hiatus is upon us and I am happy to report that he’s departed the movie world in delightful fashion.
Soderbergh has made no secret of his intentions to remove himself from the director’s chair to take up painting but something tells me he’ll be back before long.
‘Side Effects’ is Soderbergh’s last movie theatre release; his final project ‘Behind the Candelabra’ (the story of American pianist, Liberace and his lover, Scott Thorson) will be screened on American television network HBO later this year.
When it comes to versatility, Soderbergh makes a Swiss army knife look like a one trick pony and ‘Side Effects’ is yet another example of his prowess, skill and ability to tell different stories
In recent years Soderbergh has delivered such movie treats as ‘Che - Part One’ (2007), ‘Che - Part Two’ (2008) and ‘Contagion’ (2011).
‘Side Effects’ is a step away from the likes of the Che Guevara biopic and to a greater extent, 2012’s ‘Magic Mike’.
‘Side Effects’ is a psychological thriller starring Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Channing Tatum and Catherine Zeta Jones.
Rooney (‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’) plays Emily Taylor; a woman struggling with depression who, in a bid to make her life better, gets help from high flying psychiatrist, Dr. Jonathan Banks (Law - ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’ and ‘Contagion’).
Emily has spent the last four years waiting on her new husband (Tatum - ‘Haywire’ and ‘Magic Mike’) to be released from prison after he was arrested for insider trading.
On her husband’s release from prison, Emily descends into a deep dark depression and as she starts to experience utter desperation Dr. Banks decides to put her on a new anti-depressant called Ablixa but, it comes with disastrous side effects.
Tragedy befalls Emily and someone has to take responsibility for what happened.
In no time at all, the fingers of blame start pointing at Dr. Banks and as his world starts to crumble around him he sets out to clear his name and get his life back.
A man seeking to prove his innocence and clear his name is not new - let’s face it, it’s not exactly the reinventing of the wheel; ‘The Fugitive’ and ‘The Hurricane’ are but a few that come to mind but Soderbergh’s ‘Side Effects’ takes the notions and runs with it.
Relative new comer Rooney, is breathtakingly brilliant as the despairing Emily. She’s entirely helpless and suspiciously threatening throughout.
Law, who disappointed in Soderbergh’s ‘Contagion’ is excellent however, his transformation from successful psychiatrist to a man hell-bent on clearing his name at any cost, feels slightly rushed and a tad implausible.
The film’s number one triumph belongs to Soderbergh.
The opening frame is of a block of flats and immediately, the camera zooms into a particular window. The audience then see a wooden floor soaked in blood and a wooden model boat resting on a chair - it has Soderbergh written all over it.
Soderbergh is a director, or should I say was a director, besotted by good dialogue but his skill for mixing a well scripted movie with superb cinematography and memorable scores is remarkable and will be sorely missed from cinemas all over the world.
‘Side Effects’ is not Soderbergh’s greatest film, many would say that feat was attained with 1989’s ‘Sex, Lies and Videotape’ or 2000’s ‘Traffic’ but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good film.
‘Side Effects’ is an extremely satisfying film for Soderbergh to end his love affair with the movies (for now) and it’s a movie that requires repeat viewing.
Thomas Newman’s (‘WALL-E’ and ‘Skyfall’) score gives ‘Side Effects’ an extra dash of atmospheric substance and is just as important as any of the actors in the film.
It’s goodbye Soderbergh but hopefully it’s not farewell forever.
‘Side Effects’ is currently on show at Brunswick Moviebowl. For full listings see www.brunswickmoviebowl.com
VERDICT - 4/5 It’s a satisfying movie for the tremendously talented Steven Soderbergh to begin his movie sabbatical with. Rooney Mara is outstanding as the depressed and despairing and Emily Taylor and Jude Law is fantastic as the vilified psychiatrist, Dr. Banks but the film’s crowning achievement is Soderbergh. His signature style is etched on almost every scene and his skill for bringing together a great script, top class cinematography and a fabulous score will be sorely missed.