Michele and I just saw Side Effects by Stephen Soderbergh. For me, it was the second time and I liked it even more than the first time. But I am a Soderbergh fan. I won’t go so far as to say that he can do no wrong, because he can be very wrong, but his movies are almost always interesting. Starting with Sex, Lies, and Videotape, he has made an extraordinarily varied collection of movies from hits to boxoffice duds.
Think Erin Brockovich and Ocean’s Eleven in the hit category with Kafka and Schizopolis in the dud category. In between, there is Traffic and Contagion. And, probably my favorite Soderbergh movie – it may be my favorite movie, period – Out of Sight. It is such a perfect movie and more delightful because it is just a lite-weight confection that is so perfectly done. I read that Soderbergh is usually his own cinematographer – listed as Peter Andrews – and editor which is probably why his movies are often so idiosyncratic.
Soderbergh says that Side Effects is his last movie and, in many ways, it is a typical Soderbergh movie. It is a little like Contagion in that it does not so much seem to have a story arc as a story wavy line that seems to be going in one direction and then ends up somewhere else. It is a little like Out of Sight in that it a genre movie done well. And it is typical of Soderbergh movies in that it is about people’s work.
It seems to me that most movies – by most directors – are about anything except what most people do all day long: work (none of the Academy Award movies this year – Amour, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Misérables, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty – were about making money). Almost all – OK, maybe just many – of Soderbergh’s movies revolve around people’s jobs, revolve around the different ways people make money (Erin Brockovich, Traffic, The Girlfriend Experience, Magic Mike, The Informant, even Out of Sight). Side Effects is no exception.
If this is Soderbergh’s last movie, I will miss him and I feel vaguely guilty that I didn’t see all of them.