Reel Matt

This blog started as my movie marathon — watching a movie a day for a whole year — and has continued as a place for me to write reviews about movies, TV, and various other items.



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Side Effects

Film #222


Emily and Martin are a successful New York couple whose world unravels when a new drug prescribed by Emily’s psychiatrist - intended to treat anxiety - has unexpected side effects.

Year 1, Day 219

BEFORE: Advanced screenings are back with Steven Soderbergh’s new film Side Effects taking today’s slot in the movie marathon. This is an unplanned film in this romance chain but I think it will fit in nicely as it seems to be at least a minor element to the film. I’ve heard many great things about this film going into it and based off the trailer and Soderbergh’s previous films (both Traffic and Contagion have been part of the movie marathon) I’m very much looking forward to Side Effects.

AFTER: This was an interesting screening because the theater pulled an Alamo Drafthouse and did not let anyone into the theater after 6:50, ten minutes before the film started. The reason being is the first scene is crucial to the plot of the film. Now this is always the case and I’m a big proponent of if you’re watching a movie, you should watch the whole thing from beginning to end with no breaks or distractions. But to specifically call this out for this movie, when they don’t take special measures for others, made me pay extra special attention to the opening scene.

All of this is a long distraction from my opinion of the film itself which is very high. I was expecting to enjoy it but I was not prepared for what I was about to see. It messed with your mind and there was a new twist or turn around every corner. To get back to my opening paragraph and actually relate it to the rest of the review, a big element of the Side Effects is time. Flashbacks and other references to previous events are constantly brought up, added to, and then subverted. And this is all done in an engaging way that provides enough confusion to make you question what’s going on and how things will work out without making it impossible to follow along.

Other positives about this film include some terrific acting by Rooney Mara, who plays Emily Taylor, and Jude Law, who plays her psychiatrist Dr. Banks. Even Channing Tatum, who plays Emily’s husband, did a decent job. None of these performances are Oscar quality but they do add quality and help move the story along. Also commendable is the cinematography. There’s lots of experimentation with focus and depth of field and even though it’s not traditional, there are some amazing shots and I think the experimentation also added to the tone of the film.

Side Effects was much better than expectations and I found myself highly invested throughout the entire film. The acting and cinematography (amongst other elements) added to and enhanced the story. But it’s this story, and the twists and turns it has, that is the real highlight of the film. It’s mysterious and confusing but it’s never too overbearing in a way that makes it hard to follow. I’m highly recommending this because for me it was an adventure. Even if you don’t find it as interesting as I did, there should still be something you find interesting yourself.

Side Effects opens in theaters this Friday, February 8, 2013.

RATING: 5 out of 5