Soderberg returns with thriller, Seidl with Paradise trilogy

Steven Soderberg started his filmmaking career with his cult and Golden Palm winning debut


feature Sex, Lies and Videotape and went on to direct successful and acclaimed genre films like Traffic, biopic CHE, action thrillers Ocean’s Eleven and Ocean’s Thirteen. His latest competition offering in Berlinale, Side Effects is a psychological thriller that investigates the manipulations of pharmaceutical companies to place products and bring down opponents. A young intelligent psychiatrist tries to help his patient. Another demonic shrink is ensnaring the patient and using her to bring down the good psychiatrist. Will the good triumph over the evil? This provides a platform for this well paced thriller.

Machinations of powerful companies to push their products and challenge all opposition by means fair and foul, the legal barriers and how the families can desert a person instead of standing tall in support of him when the chips fall -- the screenplay with several layers beautifully holds the straight-line narrative together. As Steven Soderbergh explained, the main challenge was to hold the viewers’ interest for the first forty minutes of the film when the story was developing. The rest of the film moves briskly like a thriller. The scriptwriter Scott Burns said that the film is an outcome of several news stories and they had to do a lot of research on the pharmaceutical industry and psycho-pharmacology. Jude Law, who has given a credible wonderful performance, had to stay in a hospital and study the behaviour of the psychologists and their patients.

Ulrich Seidl’s Austrian-German co-production Paradise: Hope, the third in his Paradise trilogy explores adolescent sexual behaviour. In the previous two films, he portrayed a mother going to Kenya in search of beach boys and the aunt finding her paradise in house to house evangelism. In the third part, the girl in her early teens is attracted to the much older doctor of the weight loss camp she is sent. The young inmates of the camp are natural and lively. How do they manage the nightly raids of the kitchen, find food and alcohol and escape to a disco? This reminds us of our hostel days. The film handles a delicate subject of adolescent sensuality and passion with tremendous sophistication, restraint and tenderness it deserves. The sense of confinement and the desire of the children to break loose permeate the film’s texture. This is one of the most accomplished films in the director’s trilogy series.

It snowed in Berlin on Sunday night and the sun played hide and seek on Wednesday morning. Strong surface winds froze our face and breath. Will it snow again?

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