Without question, one of the busiest directors working in the last several years has been Steven Soderbergh. He has obtained himself an Academy Award and and 3 nominations in his career including 2 of them in 2001 in which he won for Traffic. What makes him one of the most sought after directors for studios and actors has to be his diversity and ability to pull some amazing performances out of his actors. One of his latest films that just recently is set for home video release is Side Effects.
Side Effects is a psychological thriller in which a young wife who is having trouble dealing with her husbands release from prison after 4 years and is experiencing depression and anxiety and after a failed suicide attempt is brought into contact with a psychiatrist played by Jude Law who in his attempts to help her puts her on a new anti-depressant drug called Ablixa. Soon during a sleep walking session the young wife murders her husband and blames the effects of the new drug on her crime. This sends the doctor on mystery mission to find out why and how this could have happened.
Soderbergh has a unique way of developing a psychological thriller that makes you take a look at elements of your own life and possibilities of different events happening to you such as he did with 2 years ago with Contagion. Side Effects preys on a topic that affects most Americans who deal with struggles in their day to day life and need the help of pharmaceutical drugs. The brilliance behind Soderbergh is that while his films don’t have any major twists at the end or something you don’t see coming they still have a highly satisfying ending.
The four main principles in the movie all play each role to perfection. Emily, the main character played by Rooney Mara fresh off her Oscar nominated performance in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Mara proves she is working her way up to be one of the best actresses working and is unafraid to attempt any role she finds challenging.
One of the most unusual casting choices but one that still seemed to work was that of Emily’s husband, Martin played by the very popular Channing Tatum. Normally know for more comedic and even macho roles he plays a former broker who spent 4 years in prison for insider trading and a loving husband who wants to regain his family and make up for mistakes and lost time.
Previously mentioned was Jude Law who plays Dr. Jonathan Banks. This is his second film with Soderbergh and he is definitely showing signs of the actor many thought he was going to be when it seemed like every year he was pulling in award nominations left and right until he made the awful Alfie which seemed to send him on a path that lacked the luster he had previously had shown.
Finally is Catherine Zeta-Jones who is making her third appearance in a Soderbergh movie plays Dr. Victoria Siebert who had previously treated Emily and helps Dr. Banks with insight into her past and possible current condition.
All these elements together pull a very well rounded movie together that just when think there are holes in the story the quickly become filled in leaving you satisfied and vindicated. Soderbergh doesn’t ever treat the audience like they are stupid and think they won’t see what he sees. Side Effects is clearly one of those movies and it will make us look forward to Soderbergh’s next film no matter what subject he decides to undertake.