By coincidence I saw Drew Tobia’s See You Next Tuesday at the Chicago Underground Film Festival (which I wrote about on Monday) a few days after catching up with Steven Soderbergh’s Side Effects, another New York production on the theme of mental illness. Tobia’s is by far the more compassionate film, though it’s interesting that its depiction of mental illness is objective while Soderbergh’s is subjective. Side Effects plays out in shallow focus with a soundtrack that reduces all but important dialogue to a general white noise.
This strategy approximates one experience of living with clinical depression—feeling so trapped inside your own consciousness that every place in the outside world seems the same. Soderbergh attempted something similar in his film The Informant!, deploying broad comic elements (such as Marvin Hamlisch’s jokey score) seemingly at random to depict a character who’s later revealed to be in an extended manic phase of bipolar disorder. The movie made you laugh without knowing why.