Thursday, February 14, 2013

Side Effects

Charismatic performance of the year so far 

Side Effects is a perfect film. I'm just going to start my review off with that. This is the best movie I have seen this year, from a film making stand point (granted, I enjoyed Warm Bodies a bit more) and this is a perfect example of a "film maker's film". It starts off very subtly with an ominous traverse through a hauntingly empty living room that glances above a shot of blood on the floor, which perfectly sets the mysterious tone of the film. The film begins with Emily (Mara) visiting her husband Marcus (Tatum) in prison, with him implying he will be out soon. After Marcus is released, you start to see a gradual dwindling of serenity from Emily which leads to her attempting suicide, and so kick starts the plot. Dr. Banks, (Law) a psychiatrist, sees Emily in the hospital and she makes a plea that instead of her staying in the hospital for a few days that she instead see a few days a week. Then begins a series of anti depressants a very ethereal and dreamlike feeling. As we follow Emily, the line between real and surreal begins to blur and you feel her breaking down. The cinematography here is quite beautiful and a lot of very technical achievements, as is a trademark of Soderbergh's films. Dr. Banks then meets up with Emily's old therapist, (Zeta-Jones) and she recommends a different drug which causes her to sleep walk. The film is photographed in a way that almost seems to simulate a dream that causes a feeling of certain nervousness and distress for the viewer. A certain feeling of discomfort is forced upon the viewer as Emily seemingly prepares a meal for Marcus, herself and a third person. Although there never was a third person, because Emily was sleepwalking, and as Marcus tries to snap her out of her dream, she stabs him and fatally wounds him. After this the press begins to follow Dr. Banks and all sorts of questions are raised about the drug he prescribed to Emily and about the morals of the FDA. Dr. Banks life soon starts falling apart from every possible angle and his integrity is put into jeopardy. From then on it becomes a mystery involving pharmaceuticals, rival doctors, and its up to Dr. Watson to use the skills that he picked up from Robert Downey Jr, to fix his broken life. AS the pieces fall into place, Banks realizes the relative simplicity of the whole conspiracy and his character is summed up in one line "you're a fucking genius." I really liked Jude Law's performance in this (not that I thought anybody was bad) but I honestly think he is a great actor. I also like the transition he has made from sexy young Brit, to professional and top notch thespian. It was a blast following him on this complex mystery and watching him piece everything together, and as a good movie should, it had a happy ending, and absolutely the best pay off for a film (to me, at least) since The Usual Suspects. It's been tough to not spoil this movie, because it was so good. It is one the better mysteries that we have access to, and probably the best we will have for a while. But the great thing about mysteries, is that its human nature to be curious, and you will be wanting the entire time.
This is a top notch film, made by a top notch film maker, with great acting, a great script, great editing and phenomenal cinematography and if this was Soderbergh's last film, I'm glad he went out with such Finesse, because Side Effects is not only a great film, it is a great idea and I couldn't ask anyone else for a better swansong.

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