Deconstructing “Side Effects” — A Writer’s Movie…

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by Larry Brooks on February 10, 2013

… even for a novelist.


Especially if the writer is a novelist.

Your assignment, should you decided to accept it, is to get your fanny to the multi-plex and invest nine bucks in your writing career… by seeing this movie.

“Side Effects” was released this weekend (Feb. 9) to glowing reviews, the focus of which is the storytelling.  

Directed by Stephen Soderbergh (Oceans 11 & 12… Good Night and Good Luck… Magic Mike… and enough others to be known as one of our most prolific filmmakers) from a script by  Scott Z. Burns (An Inconvenient Truth… The Bourne Ultimatum… The Informant…  Contagion… among others, including two forthcoming studio tent pole films), the movie has four major stars: Channing Tatum, Rooney Mara (the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo… literally), Jude Law and Catherine Zita-Jones.

This is a major league film on both sides of the camera, created by A-List talent.  That alone is worth the time and money.  But that alone isn’t the primary rationale for our deconstruction exercise.

Enough about the resume, and even the reviews (which are stellar… more on that in a moment)… this is a WRITER’s movie.  A storytelling clinic.  A perfect model for both story structure and story physics.

It’s what the term “watch and learn” was trying to say.

You have two weeks.

In about two weeks I’ll deconstruct this film over a handful of posts (y’all asked… here you go).

Goes without saying, to get the most out of this you really need to see the film.  And based on what there is to learn from it… it just might be the best nine bucks you’ll ever invest (other than my book, of course… just to affirm what my critics are saying about my ego…) in your writing career.

This can change your writing experience in a way that will put you into the hunt for an agent and a publisher.

If you already get it, this will affirm it.  If you are struggling with the principles of story structure and story physics — with storytelling in general — then this just might be your Epiphany.

Two weeks.  Nine bucks.  And then, perhaps a career suddenly empowered in ways that will surprise and delight you.

Oh… about the story.  I encourage you NOT to read the reviews.  Most that I’ve seen have been careful not to reveal too much, which is telling… because the film isn’t what you think it is.  Even saying that, it won’t be what you think it might be.  You’ll think it’s a theme-driven story — and on one level, it absolutely is — but it becomes so much… well, I’ll shut up now.  See for yourself.

It’s that good.  It’s that well written.  It’s that mind-boggling.

And it’s THAT powerful as a writing clinic.

Check out the PREVIEW HERE.  (Only caveat… this R-rated film has sexual content, rough language and some violence.)

Second caveat… you’ll want to see it twice.  The second time as a story pathologist.  Fair warning.


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