In what Steven Soderbergh says will be his final film, the indie director offers up a seamy, sticky drama about sex, lies, and digital images. Also, psych meds.
  • In what Steven Soderbergh says will be his final film, the indie director offers up a seamy, sticky drama about sex, lies, and digital images. Also, psych meds.
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Side Effects ***

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Back in 1989, indie film director Steven Soderbergh broke onto the scene with his first film, Sex, Lies, and Videotape, a seamy, sticky drama about sex, lies, and videotape. Here in 2013, he is giving us what he says will be his last film: a seamy, sticky drama about sex, lies, and digital images. Also, psych meds, because the modern anxiety over how a pill can or cannot change a persona is ripe for exploitation.

Soderbergh does a fine job of intermingling the smooth, clinical world of Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law) with the jagged, messy life of depressed young wife Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara). And for a while, he does an even better job of keeping the viewer uncertain about who, if anybody, should be rooted for. Some dodgy casting decisions — Law never manages real desperation — do little to get in the way of the story’s gleefully nasty mechanics.

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