Side Effects ***/4 – a movie review by James Berardinelli

February 28, 2013 by James Berardinelli - Reelviews
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There’s something delightfully old-fashioned about Steven Soderbergh’s Side Effects.

It’s the kind of thriller that Alfred Hitchcock might make if he was still alive and active today. It never seeks to do too much with the premise nor does it go overboard with plot twists and narrative contortions. Instead, the movie is content to keep viewers engaged by changing our perceptions of events and characters as the plot unfolds.

For a while, it seems that Side Effects will be an examination of the ethics associated with the increasingly frequent prescription of anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs. Saturation advertising has turned depression, a legitimate psychological illness, into a ubiquitous condition. By apparently concentrating on this aspect of the story, Soderbergh is able to execute a deft sleight-of-hand and redirect the focus in another direction. As foreshadowed by the brief flash-forward that opens the movie, Side Effects shifts gear and adopts one of Hitchcock’s favorite plots: the innocent man wrongly accused.

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