When Martin went away to prison for insider trading his wife, Emily, never stopped loving him. The day has come that Martin is finally being released and Emily and Martin can start their lives together once again. Things seem to be going well until their world begins to slowly collapse when Emily's psychiatrist prescribes her an anti-depressant drug that has unexpected sid eeffects. Steven Soderbergh's "final" film, Side Effects, is an effective and engaging thriller that once again showcases the versatility which defines Steven Sdoerbergh's career. One of my favorite aspects of Side Effects is its ability to transport the viewer into Emily's psychological state of anxiety and depression. Steven Soderbergh uses tons of soft focus, creating a blurry aesthetic which beautifully captures the fragile and warped perception on her depressive state of being. Much of the early portion of this film is from Emily's point of view and the tone and atmosphere is very cold and distant, just like how Emily feels about the world around her. Soderbergh paints a picture of a society in which not just Emily, but most of us, are dependent on prescription drugs to get by. It's subtle but we see how Dr. Jonathan Banks, her psychiatrist, takes adderal and how he prescribes medicine to his wife to ease her nerves as well. Perhaps the opening sequence of the film sums this theme up best - a slow panning camera across countless apartment buildings, one just like the next, which slowly zooms in on Emily's apartment, visually capturing how Emily is not so different than everyone else. Probably the most impressive aspect of Side Effects, outside of Rooney Mara's outstanding performance, lies in the narrative twist and turns which the film navigates. Soderbergh sets this movie up very much in a thematic "message" style yet yanks the proverbial rug out from under the viewer about halfway through the film. This commentary effectively blinds the viewer to the twists and turns of the narrative to the point where the film almost does a complete 180 on its so called message or theme. Without going into spoilers, I'm not sure Soderbergh had a clear cut message about prescription drugs, and perhaps that's the point, as Soderbergh seems to pointing more to greed as societies biggest problem. In the end it's greed that drives this narrative and I believe Soderbergh in the end wants to show that this is the main problem, not necessarily prescription drugs. Side Effects is Soderbergh's best film of the last few outings what unfolds is both an intelligent commentary and a fun, sexy and artistically done thriller that has enough juice and venom to make many fans of the genre happy.
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