Side Effects

side effectsEver since director Steven Soderbergh gave up shooting his movies on film they have not been as good.  He now shoots digitally on a camera called the Red.  I do not know for sure that we can blame his change in shooting format for the cold uniformity that his movies now seem to possess.  It is just my opinion, but his best work remains in 35mm: “Out of Sight” (1998) and “The Limey” (1999).

Soderbergh’s new film, “Side Effects” is not bad, compared to his recent output.  In many respects it is a neat little thriller about a psychiatrist, played by Jude Law, who is in a heap of trouble over medication that he gave to his patient, played by Rooney Mara.

Here is the problem.  A movie like “Side Effects” can have what is called a “second read.” Here is the way it works…or should work.  On second viewing an audience member will have superior knowledge due to the fact that he, or she, now knows how things are going to turn out.  A twisty thriller, in which all may not be what it first appears, requires that scenes be played so that they will work for a first time viewer as well as a second time viewer.  The latter will have superior knowledge of the film.  In other words the director cannot cheat.  Some good examples of “second read” movies include “The Usual Suspects” (1995), “The Sixth Sense” (1999) and “Fight Club” (1999).   While I will not give away any of the twists in “Side Effects,” I should point out that there are moments which will not hold up in a second viewing.  The problem usually occurs when we see a character who is putting on a act, that will not be revealed until later, alone.  Since the character is all by his or her self, he or she can let down their guard.  If the character does not let down their guard then this may be fine for a first time viewing but will not hold up in a second viewing.  In other words why continue the act if no one is around?


About unpaidfilmcritic

Up until 2009 Seth Shire spent nearly two decades in the New York film industry as a post production supervisor of feature films. Highlights include working on the films of Martin Scorsese, James Toback and Spike Lee. Since leaving the film industry Seth has expanded into new and varied areas where he has found a great deal of satisfaction. Seth currently teaches in the Sociology Department of CUNY Queens College. His courses include "Mass Media and Popular Culture," "Introduction to Sociology," and "Sociology of Cinema" where he is a very popular teacher. Seth is also the film critic for "Town & Village," a Manhattan weekly newspaper, a position he has held for the past six years. Seth gives back to his community through volunteer teaching at Manhattan's "The Caring Community," a center for senior citizens, where he teaches a very popular course on documentaries called "The Golden Age of the Documentary. In the fall of 2010 Seth taught "Critical Reading and Writing" at Parsons School of Design. He has also taught "Cinema Studies" at the New York Film Academy. Seth lives in Stuyvesant Town, in Manhattan.

Posted on March 4, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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