Thursday, August 1, 2013

BOXED IN

Side Effects(Soderbergh, 2013)
I recently watched Side Effects and wanted to explore briefly some of the cool stuff visual cues Soderbergh uses to unite his twisty narrative. Spoilers ahead, so watch it first, coz it's good, and come back and check this out. Then watch it again.

At the start of Side Effects, Soderburgh brings us into an apartment window. First we can see the city itself. The street is to the left and surround the building. Then we slowly pan right and eventually zoom into a window that belongs to Emily and Martin Taylor(Rooney Mara and Channing Tatum). Once we're in the apartment the action of the story beings, telling us a story about how Emily came to killing her husband.





As we come in closer to The Taylor's apartment the complex feels less like a building and more like a spreadsheet. Soderbergh explores these elements though out the film by using objects to create a secondary frame around the characters. Take this shot for example:


 One of the best shots of the film, Soderbergh shows in one frame Emily's isolation from all the people at the party, whom we can see in the window's reflection staring at her. He also frames her with two black bars making her feel even more closed off from society. This shot is also foreshadowing later as Emily is eventually sent to jail for the murder of her husband.

There's also an irony in this still in that even though Emily is technically outside, standing on the deck of a boat, she's more closed off than those in the room. Soderbergh plays with this irony multiple times through out the film. Like here where we see from Emily's point of view, Dr. Banks(Jude Law) and Dr. Siebert (Catherine Zeta-Jones):
The bars both frame the outside characters while also reflecting Emily's own imprisonment.

Soderbergh sets up a somewhat humorous and cruel joke by showing Dr. Jonathan Banks outside, surrounded by boxes on the wall behind him and the squares on the ground. The space feels very open and deserted:


The punchline at the end of this scene is that even though they're outside, Jude Law is actually just in a bigger box:


At film's end zoom out from Emily's place in the psyche ward and pan left ending showing the lack of connection to the rest of civilization. Unlike the first shot, the road now veers at an extreme angle away from the building, illustrating Emily's break from society.






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