It's become a little quiet around Steven Soderbergh, as the acclaimed director has been making smaller films in the past years, movies that are most likely more personal to him than the "Oceans 11" franchise. "Side Effects" is such a movie and it's arrived on Blu-Ray Disc. Reason enough for me to give a close look.
The movie starts innocuous enough as Emily Taylor's (Rooney Mara) husband returns from prison and Emily begins to suffer from intense anxiety attacks. After a suicide attempt she ends up under psychiatrist Dr. Jonathan Banks' (Jude Law) care, who wants to help the troubled young woman. He consults her previous psychiatrist, Dr. Siebert (Catherine Zeta-Jones to find out more about her history and prescribes an experimental new drug, as everything else seems to have failed in the past. But the decision has horrifying consequences, when the drug's side effects turn Emily into a sleepwalking nervous wreck. One night she even stabs and kills her husband, all without knowing it, in a trancelike sleepwalking state.
Now the doctors reputation is on the line, as well as Emily's life as the media and judicial system descend upon them. Can he save Emily while keeping his good name intact?
Innocent enough, right? Wrong, because I told you only half the story. "Side Effects" will throw you some curve balls that you never see coming and about half way into the movie it morphs from being a drama into a nail-biting thriller. It happens so quickly and unexpectedly that it leaves the viewer speechless and will pull you through the movie like a runaway rollercoaster. To say, the movie is mesmerizing is too little acclaim, really. In many of its details and in its many facets, the film is actually a little gem that has been largely overlooked by audiences.
Presented in a 1080p high definition transfer on this Blu-Ray release from Universal, the presentation is absolutely clean and clear, without even the slightest of blemishes. Solid colors that reproduce the film's natural look and palette faithfully, and deep black levels help root the image visually, often giving you the impression as if you're right there - as opposed to being a mere observer. With a high level of detail and wonderful textures, the transfer is remarkable in its consistency and natural look.
The release is accompanied by a DTS 5.1 HD Master Audio track that also helps propel the movie along. While this is no bombastic action film, the intimate ambient sounds that fill the scenes help adding further realism to the picture as a whole. Dialogues are well integrated and always understandable and the music is often understated for effect.
In addition to the high definition movie itself, along with a DVD version, a Digital Copy and an Ultraviolet version, the release also contains a number of bonus materials, such as a behind the scenes featurette. Further you will find the complete Ablixa and Intenin commercials on the disc, as seen in the movie itself, only without all the distraction.
I was surprised by "Side Effects" on so many levels. I wasn't sure what to expect, but the cast and Soderbergh's name compelled my to give the film a try. Boy, am I glad I did, because it turned out to be a wild thriller that carries Soderbergh's signature throughout. It may feel simple and a bit slow in the beginning, but trust me, he film kicks into overdrive soon enough and when it does, there's no escaping the magic of Soderbergh's direction and Scott Burns' writing.