12 February 2013

Review: The Doting Wife (Side Effects)


Emily (Rooney Mara) has been putting on a brave face for the last four years. Her husband, Martin (Channing Tatum, a regular in these flicks now), was arrested for insider trading and spent a majority of their marriage inside of a jail cell. Martin is due out in a few days and Emily wants to be there for him to assist his transition back to regular life.

Emily really is happy to see her husband again, but the enthusiasm they shared when they first met in college just isn't there. Sex is spent staring at the ceiling and the rest of her day is like carefully treading through a trance. Her depression confuses her as everything can only get easier with Martin out of prison.

It is only when Emily drives straight into a parking garage wall that her outlook raises concern with Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law, doing his best Hitchcock leading man impression). Emily's condition could be easily solved, Banks presumes, and Oblexa should be the drug to do it.

A lot of Side Effects is lost if more elaboration is placed upon the synopsis, so I'll encourage viewers to just give it a go and see it in theatres.

Rooney Mara's follow-up to Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was an anticipated one. Mara turned a lot of heads with her interpretation of Lisbeth Salander and after her nomination for Best Actress, we wanted to see what she would choose next. Mara does not disappoint and her half lackadaisical half fiery stint offers double meaning poised for introspection in every scene.

If Steven Soderbergh really does fold up the director's chair and call it a career then Side Effects is a fitting ending to the formalist auteur's filmography. Soderbergh has been hinting at retirement for the last couple years and while he may be tiring of the Hollywood system, his output has not reflected it, Haywire and Contagion were some of the better films of their respective years.

Operating as his own cinematographer under the guise of Peter Andrews, Soderbergh employs a variety of shots during Side Effects that rival some of the best lensers in cinema. The detached fashion in which most of Haywire and Magic Mike was captured in switches to close-ups here. At age 50, Soderbergh has everything in his repertoire calculated to fullest effect.

With any luck, Mr. Soderbergh's retirement is a short one. Few directors have mixed genres so effortlessly and with such panache. Please, come back soon.

***/****