The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

The side effect of watching a movie with someone who likes it less

with 21 comments

Jude Law in Side Effects.A quick glance was all it took confirm what I already knew: that the people I was in party with were lukewarm about Side Effects. Some of them even appeared to hate it with a passion.

I hadn’t heard them utter a word during the screening (after all they’re film bloggers, so the code of conduct applies), but there was no mistake about them: the vibes of disapproval hanging in the air.

As we started our walk towards the following pub meeting we started to share our immediate impressions without spoiling our upcoming reviews completely, since we’re each other’s – if not only, at least most loyal and vocal – readers.

“I actually didn’t think it was that bad”, I said. “Maybe a little TV-like in the way it looked. But in a good way. Solid and entertaining. Like one of those well-crafted British crime dramas”.

I knew I didn’t sound convincing and there was anyone who was going to change opinion, it was me. One of the side effects of watching movies in a party instead of on your own is that you run the risk to be talked into not liking a movie you could have liked under other circumstances. Whining is infectious and considering the risks I knew that I’d better take cover.

Fortunately we met up with a blogger who had yet to see the movie, which was exactly what we needed. Due to its spoiler sensitive nature, our conversation about Side Effects had to end abruptly and I was left to digest the rest of my impressions in solitude.

A classic feel
With the negative electric field gone, I have to say that I liked it pretty much. Again: it’s not the kind of movie you want to talk in detail about, but it starts off like a drama seemingly aimed at criticizing the drug industry and then all of a sudden switches tracks and turns into a crime thriller. I hadn’t read a lot about it on beforehand and I suggest you do the same if you have plans on watching this. In that way you ensure to get most enjoyment from all the twisting and turning.

With the risk of revealing too much about the nature of the film (you can stop reading here if you’re very sensitive), all I’ll say is that while I don’t think this will become a classic on its own, there’s a classic feel to it, making me think of director such as Alfred Hitchcock. It’s got the ingredients: a conspiracy, a battle of wills, cunning plans that are so entertaining that you forgive them for being implausible and women who are as dangerous as they’re beautiful. Besides it’s got Jude Law, who keeps aging with grace and dignity. In the absence of James Stewart, he’s a perfect fit for the role.

And I really need to stop letting other people’s negative views of a film affect my own opinion.

Side Effects (Steven Soderbergh, US 2013) My rating: 4/5

Some of my colleagues in the Swedish movie blogger network Filmspanarna also watched Side Effects. Here’s what they made of it (in Swedish).

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Written by Jessica

April 24, 2013 at 8:00 am

Posted in Side Effects

21 Responses

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  1. I think the deal breaker with Side Effects is how you perceive the shift in fokus and genre. For me, it didn’t go down so well… But what did you think of CZ-J performance? I thought that became something of a millstone around the movie’s neck.


    April 24, 2013 at 8:24 am

    • Well I wasn’t a huge fan of her. She reminded me a little of the therapist in 50/50: someone who looks more like a photo model than a believable psychiatrist. Even in glasses. But it wasn’t so bad that it took away my enjoyment of the movie.


      April 24, 2013 at 2:30 pm

  2. Great post, Jess! I liked Side Effects a lot. Really liked its twists and turns and Jude Law’s performance (great seeing him in a leading role for a change). Sometimes our own perceptions are altered by those of other people but I’m glad you enjoyed the film despite that.


    April 24, 2013 at 8:36 am

    • Thanks! Yes, Jude Law was great. I think he’s aging with grace and I look forward to see him in different roles in the years to come.


      April 24, 2013 at 2:32 pm

  3. It is very difficult to not let other people’s opinions alter your own, especially if you’re in the minority or those opinions are from people you like or admire. I think most, if not all, people are susceptible to that happening to be honest. As for the film itself, I enjoyed it but didn’t love it. I thought it threw too many twists and turns at the audience in such a short space of time and became a bit messy. I just didn’t feel all that fulfilled by the film’s climax. Definitely not a bad film at all though.

    • I think one of the reasons why I enjoyed the movie so much was that I for once managed to keep up with all the turns and twists and yet it didn’t feel as if the film was pointing everything out to me in a too obvious way. It made me feel, if not smart, at least alert enough to keep track, and that’s a nice feeling. (Remember, I often find myself lost. For instance in the case of Primer I had no idea whatsover about what was going on).


      April 24, 2013 at 2:44 pm

  4. I didn´t notice we were_that_negative right after seeing the movie.


    April 24, 2013 at 10:38 am

    • But I think you were more in agreement with the general opinion? I agree that it wasn’t as if people called it the worst movie ever. But it was overall a negative vibe about it, which I don’t quite agree with.


      April 24, 2013 at 2:34 pm

  5. I’m looking forward to seeing this movie. The snow ruined my cinema outing back in March, so it’s gonna be an iTunes rental when it gets released. I love a good flip-flop of narrative in a film.

    Frame Rates

    April 24, 2013 at 11:34 am

    • Then I think you’re definitely going to like this. And don’t fear picking it up on rental. It’s not the type of movie that requires a big screen.


      April 24, 2013 at 2:35 pm

  6. Very nice write-up Jessica. Gotta say I wasn’t a big fan of Side Effects. I loved where it was going but I have to say I felt the final reveal was pretty lame. In a way I felt it undid many of the things the film did well. I do think this is one of Jude Law’s finest performances as of late.


    April 24, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    • I’m sorry it didn’t work for you, but we can’t agree about everything. At least we’re on the same page about Jude Law. And thanks for your kind words! 🙂


      April 24, 2013 at 2:40 pm

      • That’s a cool thing about movies, They affect so many people in so many different ways. If it was all the same this whole blogging thing wouldn’t really be that much fun with it? 🙂


        April 24, 2013 at 2:49 pm

  7. Have not seen this yet, but in general I prefer to watch movies by meself as well (if I haven’t seen them yet). You can always somehow sense what others are thinking about it, even if they aren’t talking which can sometimes spoil your own enjoyment. It’s also the reason why I try not to read any reviews before seeing a movie (and you know my thoughts about watching trailers (I don’t))…I want to go in as a blank slate on which an impression can form without too much preconceptions.


    April 24, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    • I watch most movies on my own, but I have to say that I really enjoy our blogger-meet-ups, even at the times when we disagree. The following pub meetings are awesome, though you need to be strong not to be talked out of your own opinions.
      Walking into a movie with a blank state is really the best. I did that with this movie, which I think helped me to enjoy it more than I would have otherwise.


      April 24, 2013 at 4:26 pm

  8. I actually totally disagree with you about watching a movie in company with someone who likes it less or just have the opposite opinion. That’s a *good* side effect. It makes you think more about why you like a movie, defend your position and maybe look at the film from another angle. The discussions afterwards are much more interesting as well. I almost only see positives.

    “Whining”? I don’t think we were whining. We were merely stating our opinion of the film.

    “Fortunately we met up with a blogger who had yet to see the movie, which was exactly what we needed”

    What *you* needed you mean? 😉

    Sorry, for sounding a bit… I don’t know… annoyed.


    April 24, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    • I think it’s both for good and for bad. I think it sometimes can take away a bit of the enjoyment. I guess we’re just different in this manner.


      April 24, 2013 at 6:21 pm

  9. Wow, how strange to read your feelings about the evening. I don’t understand what you are getting at.

    I feel a little sad that you use the word “whining” about our sincere and as always energizing conversation after the movie. I don’t think I have ever seen the word “whining” being used in a positive way when referring to other people.

    I can’t really decipher if you are totally bashing the group, the opinions or if it’s only an unfortunate choice of word that has no true value. Don’t you think it is interesting that we can have different views on a film? And if not, what’s the point of it all?


    April 24, 2013 at 11:39 pm

    • I think you’re reading too much into this. I really enjoy our conversations about movies, otherwise I wouldn’t participate. I’m talking about a side effect – that I’ve observed elsewhere as well – that when I find myself listening to a group of people who don’t like a movie that I like – either it’s irl or listening to a podcast actually – it can take away a bit of my own enthusiasm for a movie that I otherwise actually liked a lot. I think this sometimes is a side effect. This doesn’t mean that I’d rather not be in the company. It’s worth it for so many reasons anyway. And when you’re on the same side as the group, it’s of course not a problem at all. Being alone in liking something everyone else dislikes can be more problematic. The problem is probably with me, being too weak spirited, not sticking to my gun enough.


      April 24, 2013 at 11:55 pm

  10. I had a lot of fun with Side Effects, though I watched in alone in a nearly empty theater. I can totally understand what you mean by sensing the responses of friends and others. I remember seeing Melinda and Melinda and liking it a lot more than a friend, who spent the whole movie sighing. It took me out of the movie and I had to watch it again to figure out how I really felt. This has also happened with concerts, where a friend who kept complaining pretty much ruined it. I do love the idea of a group experience at a movie or other event, and it’s great to check in afterwards. But there are a few downsides like you mention.

    Dan Heaton

    April 29, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    • I don’t know if I’m too easily affected by the mood of others. Maybe I am. I should be able to stick to my gun, not allowing my own appreciation to be decreased just because there’s someone else in the room who didn’t like it. Maybe my skin just isn’t thick enough.


      April 29, 2013 at 9:21 pm

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