Sunday 10 March 2013

Side Effects: Soderbergh & Burns Ride Again

I was dismayed last year when Steven Soderbergh announced he was retiring from film making. Soderbergh, in addition to having crafted such earlier masterpieces as Traffic (whose script owed everything to the genius of Simon Moore) had recently been on a roll with such splendid films as Haywire, Magic Mike and Contagion. 
However, the reports of his retirement seem to be thankfully exaggerated with the appearance in cinemas this week of his marvellous new movie Side Effects which is written, like Contagion by screenwriter Scott Z. Burns

Burns also co-wrote The Bourne Ultimatum and worked on the TV series Californication.

I am a great fan of Contagion (you've got to love a movie where they kill Gwyneth Paltrow in the first five minutes and cut off the top of her skull).
I’d be embarrassed to confess how many times I saw that film (certainly three or four). It was a perfectly crafted thriller based on topical concerns, well researched, with biting dialogue and vivid characterisation. It was also breathlessly well paced and entirely gripping.

All of these things, and more, can be said about Side Effects, a drama concerning the use of anti depressants.

Unfortunately there is very little more I can say about Side Effects because I don’t want to spoil your enjoyment when you see it. 

I urge you to avoid reading any reviews whatsoever (probably even the links I've included here) — they can only reduce your pleasure in this magnificently crafted film — and rush to see it right away.

The movie also has a fine David Newman score and the cast is excellent; I have to single out Rooney Mara, who has been one of my favourite American actresses ever since she portrayed The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in David Fincher's film.

One of my top movies of the year, splendidly written and directed, and we’re only in March.

(Image sources: the standard poster for Side Effects was taken from Wikipedia and is the official poster for the film. While researching images for Contagion I found that I didn't like the official poster much so I used the lovely gas mask design which is by a very talented chap called 'Karezoid', actually Michal Karcz from Poland (the Poles have a distinguished history of stunning film poster design). My hat is off to you, sir. His work is on a site charmingly called Deviant Art. The other non-official Contagion poster is a striking sort of Saul Bass homage and is from a site called  Minimal Movie Posters which is devoted to this kind of graphic design and is well worth a look. It's evidently by another gifted artist called Anna Underhill. Lastly we have the Rooney Mara poster for Side Effects (hi Rooney, loved you in The Social Network) which came from IMP Awards, a serious movie poster site. Many thanks to all concerned.)

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