My take on…Side Effects
Side Effects is a well-acted movie.
Perhaps too well-acted.
How is that possible?
Well, I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more if it was more of an adventure movie, if I wasn’t being asked to actually believe in the characters.
If these are supposed to be real people doing real things to other real people, the movie becomes so unpleasant for me, it doesn’t work.
If the movie had a tone of unreality to it initially, then I could have had more fun with it.
For example, replace Jude Law with Robert Downey, Jr. (who can be dramatic, of course, but knows how to bring a twinkle in the eye to a role). Ro0ney Mara does turn in a great performance…again, too good.
The decision to play it this way has to lie at the feet of Steven Soderbergh, who has rounded up some familiar people with whom to work here: Jude Law from Contagion; Channing Tatum from Magic Mike; and screenwriter Scott Z. Burns (also from Contagion).
In order to discuss this better, I’m going to go into
===The Spoiler Zone===
This is a SPOILER ALERT!
I love being surprised by my entertainment, and I’m careful not to discuss details with someone who hasn’t seen a movie yet (unless they tell me it is okay). In this case, I’m going to say something that could lead you to figure things out, although I’m not going to into plot details.
The moral of this story seemed pretty simple to me: evil will always win, because good can only defeat evil by doing evil things.
I think I was supposed to be happy with the ending, but I was appalled. A character, who had tried to do things in a moral fashion, only succeeded by abandoning all that and doing what would have been, if one doesn’t use the context to excuse it, absolutely horrifying. Not only that, it’s a clear contradiction to how the character had wanted to behave earlier.
Once this evil is done, the character is richly rewarded for the action, and in ways that seemed very unlikely.
END SPOILER ALERT
===Now Leaving The Spoiler Zone===
It has been interesting to me that so many people seem impressed with the twists and turns in this movie. Yes, those are interesting…and again, if this had the tone more of, say, Soderbergh’s Ocean’s 11, I actually think it would have been a much more enjoyable movie.
Just to be clear, I do like movies that are serious (in addition to ones that are lighter in tone). The issue for me here is that I don’t think the tone served the material well.
What do you think? Am I taking the movie too seriously…or not seriously enough? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.