Saturday, February 9, 2013

Side Effects

I am unapologetic in my affection for Steven Soderbergh's work. I cannot name a feature film he's directed that I've seen that I did not enjoy -- some more than others, of course, but every one of them I found smart, swift and entertaining. I also thought his collaborative work with George Clooney, the HBO mini-series K Street, was genius. I was in the Soderbergh fan club from 1989's Sex Lies and Videotapes on (though I decided not to see last year's male stripper fantasia Magic Mike because I was getting dangerously close to Channing Tatum fatigue). Even though Tatum was a member of poster quartet for Soderbergh's Side Effects, I went into the picture hoping the woodenness of "the sexiest man in Hollywood" (?) would be offset by Jude Law's ineluctably enticing charisma, Rooney Mara's hypnotic intensity and Catherine Zeta-Jones unvarnished beauty. And it was. But also the Fates were kind as Tatum, an ex-con white color criminal married to an unaccountably depressed woman (Mara), is dispatched in true Hitchcockian fashion in the first reel by his sleepwalking bride, who is having trouble getting adjusted to new meds prescribed by her distracted shrink (Law). The script, by veteran film scrivener Scott Z. Burns (Contagion, The Informant, The Bourne Ultimatum), is arch and cagey, and brimming with misdirection and sly reveals. It's not quite Mamet in the area of the double-cross but it's pretty darn close. I loved it. Highly recommendation but not for the kiddies.

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