Friday, April 12, 2013

Side Effects

2013, US, directed by Steven Soderbergh

Soderbergh is surely one of the most intelligent of current mainstream directors, wrestling with interesting conceptual problems -- not least how to tell certain kinds of stories -- while delivering satisfying narrative entertainments. There's a satisfaction in the neat, finely-honed outcome here that's complemented by a fascination with the intricate putting-together of the overall puzzle; you want to re-watch the film immediately to figure out what you could have known when, and just how the director signals certain ideas (through colour scheme or shot selection, for instance) or conceals little pieces of information from the viewer. And yet it's not just an exercise in careful narration, or for that matter in trickery. Soderbergh makes especially adept use of the interiors in which these characters live, work, and play. The spaces in which their lives unspool -- spaces of privilege, for the most part -- come to function as important adjuncts to the characters, and there are a couple of exhilarating shots where he takes us around Rooney Mara's apartment in quite deliberate fashion to give us a sense of the proximity of a number of key events. He also has a knack for working with fine casting directors -- the smallest parts are always worth looking it in a Soderbergh picture, with cops, janitors, co-workers all neatly sketched.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States