It appears Steven Soderbergh is going out with a bang.
The Oscar-winning director's latest film "Side Effects" is being hailed by critics. The psychological drama, featuring a star-studded cast, currently has an 85 percent fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
Open Road Films
Rooney Mara and Channing Tatum star in "Side Effects."
"Side Effects" marks the "Sex, Lies, and Videotape" helmer's final cinematic venture -- or so he has claimed.
The movie follows a young woman (Rooney Mara) who begins suffering anxiety attacks after her husband (Channing Tatum) is released from prison. After seeking treatment from a psychiatrist (Jude Law), she decides to start taking prescription drugs. Although she initially finds the medication to be effective, that changes when she blacks out and wakes up to discover a dead body in her apartment.
Several critics have noted that "Side Effects" serves as a reminder of Soderbergh's immeasurable talent and how unfortunate it is that he has no plans to direct any more feature films.
"If we are to believe 'Side Effects' is Steven Soderbergh’s final theatrical film before his retirement from movies, then he couldn’t have gone out on a more electrifying film," Justin Craig wrote at FoxNews.com. "'Side Effects' is essential Soderbergh with a dash of [Alfred] Hitchcock’s showmanship," Craig added.
Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times arrived at a similar conclusion, calling the film "deliciously complex ... If this does prove to be Soderbergh's final film -- and I wouldn't hold my breath -- he picked a heck of a one to go out on."
Many of the movie's performances are also earning considerable praise.
The Wall Street Journal's Joe Morgenstern called the production "consistently enjoyable and sometimes thrilling, a classic Soderbergh showcase for provocative storytelling and marvelous acting."
Morgenstern also singled out Mara's performance as one of the film's highlights.
"The breakthrough belongs to Ms. Mara, however odd that term may seem for an actress who got our attention with a single scene at the start of 'The Social Network,' then played the title role in David Fincher's English-language version of 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,'" Morgenstern said. "I found that starring performance fairly conventional, and not very interesting. This time, though, with supple direction and a character of exceptional variety, Ms. Rooney is impressive in her range, and commendable for her subtlety, whether Emily is struggling to find her emotional core or, having found it, is coping with the unintended consequences of her cure."
Law also received positive attention for his performance. The actor had memorable turns in his career earlier, including Oscar-nominated performances in "Cold Mountain" and "The Talented Mr. Ripley," but has since starred in a number of disappointments. "Side Effects" is earning the star, who had turned his attention to theater in recent years, some of his best reviews.
"Law's acting is perfect in its eager, deluded benevolence," Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman said. "He plays Banks as a patsy, a symbol of a psychiatric establishment that's become a tool of the pharmaceutical industry."
Of course, "Side Effects" was not univerally beloved.
USA Today's Scott Bowles contended the film begins strongly, but gradually falls apart.
"Like a powerful antidepressant," Bowles said, "'Side Effects' works wonders at first. It's a gripping thriller through the first hour and a chilling indictment of the nation's pharmaceutical industry. But like a lot of meds, it loses its effectiveness over time, and you'll build a resistance to "Effects" (** out of four) eventually, particularly when it dissolves into a standard crime flick. The result is a severe letdown, particularly considering the director behind it."
"Side Effects" is currently in theaters.
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