Thursday, February 14, 2013
Obfuscation is the name of the game in Steven Soderbergh's intricate new thriller Side Effects. The kind of tense drama for which the words "taut" and "twisty" are usually strung together in a sentence, this dark tale of sex, lies, and pharmaceutical skullduggery is a masterpiece of misdirection, artfully calibrated so that the viewer—like the film's overly medicated characters—often has no idea what may or may not be going on.
In retrospect, even the preview trailer (which has been playing around town for weeks) fools around with our expectations, so that the film itself is still full of nifty surprises.
Scripted by Scott Z. Burns (who also wrote Soderbergh's Contagion), the story revolves around Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara), a young woman battling depression. She was accustomed to living large back in Connecticut—parties, boat, mansion—until her yuppie stockbroker husband, Martin (Channing Tatum), went to prison for insider trading. Emily has gotten a job and moved to an apartment in New York City, but now that Martin is getting out again, she doesn't know how to cope.
Complaining that the anti-anxiety drugs she's been taking interfere with her work, her sleep, and her sex drive, she lands in a downtown hospital for observation when the car she's driving has a close encounter with a brick wall. Soderbergh is smart to use a supple actor like Jude Law in the pivotal role of Dr. Banks, the psychiatrist who happens to be making the rounds that day—who soon finds himself drawn into a sensational murder scandal that threatens his practice, his family, his career, and possibly even his own sanity. (Read more)