There was a time when director Steven Soderbergh’s Side Effects had switched its title to The Bitter Pill, was to be financed by Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures (The Master) and had Blake Lively attached to star. However, there were more changes during pre-production than usual for your average Soderbergh flick – as the title reverted to Side Effects, 1984 Private Defense Contractors (Killing Them Softly) stepped in to provide funding, and (American) Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Rooney Mara took Lively’s spot as the lead.

Side Effects is also unusual because it will be the final Soderbergh motion-picture to hit theaters before he enters semi-retirement; though, Behind the Candelabra (the director’s Liberace biopic starring Michael Douglas) is going to premiere on HBO sometime thereafter. Then again, Soderbergh’s due for a break after releasing more than 15 films since the start of the century.

Mara plays Emily Hawkins, a young woman who deals with the anxiety over her husband’s (Channing Tatum) release from prison by taking medication prescribed by her therapist (Jude Law); of course, there ends up being horrible complications with the drugs (or are there?) that result in someone turning up dead. Thereafter, an investigation into the tragedy turns up dirt on the unscrupulous relationship between Emily and her doctor, as well as the ‘revolutionary’ Ablixa medication she was treated with.

The Side Effects trailer confirms what we’ve heard about the script from Scott Z. Burn (who previously collaborated with Soderbergh on both The Informant! and Contagion). The Noir and slow-burn thriller elements are highlighted here, as is the cast full of familiar faces from the Soderbergh-verse (including, Catherine Zeta-Jones). However, it’s best to not take everything presented here at face-value, since the marketing for Soderbergh’s films is rarely a proper reflection of the final product.

Soderbergh’s projects are sometimes hilariously varied in content (see: this year’s Haywire and Magic Mike), though there are shared elements of style. Side Effects appears to be no different. The digital photography and composition has a definite Soderbergh-flavor, as does the lighting – varying from the warm glow of flashbacks depicting newlyweds Mara and Tatum’s time together, to the somber color tones of the present.

You can always count on top-notch acting and cinematography (which Soderbergh handles) from any of the director’s films, so expect as much from Side Effects. The writing tends to be less-reliable, though, which is why his movies are often more admired for their technical qualities and how they reflect the zeitgeist (see: Magic Mike‘s approach to male objectification) – rather than pure entertainment value.

Side Effects opens in U.S. theaters on February 8th, 2013.

Source: Yahoo! Movies