Nat thought – watching this film may cause boredom, shock, renewed interest, more shock, confusion, then admiration. Not necessarily in that order.
Director Steven Soderburgh must be tired. Correction – he must be bloody exhausted. In the last five years he’s given us Ocean’s Thirteen, Che 1&2,The Girlfriend Experience, Haywire, Magic Mike, Side Effects, other stuff I can’t be bothered typing and the yet to be released Liberace film, Behind the Candelabra. I don’t know how he does it, but Soderburgh seems to make one or two films a year. And, much like Danny Boyle, he further refuses to be a lazy git and stick to the one genre. Over the decades he’s given us heist comedies, martial arts action, historical biopics, thrillers, Sci-Fi, drama… hell, sometimes he even writes em too.
While his films may not end up on your top ten lists, you can pretty much be guaranteed that sitting down to watch a Soderburgh will lead to a quality couple hours of entertainment. And that’s more that can be said for half the rubbish that makes it to our screens, right?
Side Effects started out by trying to prove that last paragraph wrong. At the end of the first third – which is about Rooney Mara’s character Emily dealing with depression whilst trying to put her life back together after her husband (Channing Tatum) is released from jail – I was pretty depressed myself. I was so bored, every time Jude Law came on the screen all I could think about was wondering when he was going to give up and just shave his head. That little tuft at the front is just looking a bit silly now, don’t you think?
And it’s even worse when he’s wet.
Yes Jude, you’re starting to look a bit… errr… avian.
Whatever happened to that young, pretty boy from the 90’s?
Then again, it does enable him to do more character actor work like his role in the recent Anna Karenina.
Ahem. Like I said, my mind wandered. And I’m sure this is not really the reaction Soderburgh was going for. And really, Jude, I must apologise. When it comes to hair, I’m hardly one to judge am I? I’ve been going grey and letting toxic chemicals seep into my brain to try to hide it since my early twenties…
And then boom! Twist number one got my attention back quick smart. Ouch (you’ll know what I mean when you see it).
Unfortunately that means I can’t really talk much more about the plot. It’s one of those films where anything I say is likely to spoil it for you. And then there’s twist number two. On reflection I’m ashamed of myself that I didn’t guess that one, as it’s not exactly original, but well done Soderburgh (or should I say Scott Z Burns – the writer), you got me. Let’s just say, like the title suggests, this film deals with drugs, their side effects and the consequences for both patient and doctor when those side effects have horrific results.
As usual with a Steven Soderburgh film, all the cast are good, including Jude and his tuft. There’s also Catherine Zeta Jones and Mamie daughter-of-Meryl-Streep Gummer in a tiny roll to add to the star power.
Soderburgh said earlier this year that Side Effects will be his last film. I hope not. And maybe the news of Beyond the Candelabra is evidence of the beginning of a Cher-like endless comeback films for him. Time will tell.