Side Effects (Movie) Review
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Not so much?
With twists and turns galore, Soderbergh delivers a relentlessly exciting thriller that never lets up on misdirection.
Suffering with depression, Emily Taylor’s (Rooney Mara) condition is worsened following her husband’s (Channing Tatum) release from prison. She begins seeing a psychiatrist, Dr. John Banks (Jude Law) who prescribes her various courses of pills in an attempt to treat her illness, and after some trial-and-error and a consultation with Emily’s original psychiatrist (Catherine Zeta Jones), they settle on the new drug ‘Ablixa’, which she initially responds to positively.
However, soon afterwards, tragedy strikes which has devastating effects on Emily, Dr Banks and the people around them as they become embroiled in a web of deceit and betrayal.
This is a brilliant film by Steven Soderbergh (who will be sorely missed if he ever does actually retire). It is also a film that is very difficult to talk about without giving too much away. What can be said, though, is whatever it is you think you are about to watch, it is not that! It seems to play out first of all as a character study of Rooney Mara’s protagonist; her battle with depression and her relationships with her husband and psychiatrist. However, around the midway point, Law takes over and the film is about his character dealing with the effects of the tragedy that took place earlier which threaten his career, livelihood and his own relationships.
But, this is more than a character piece. With twists and turns galore, Soderbergh delivers a relentlessly exciting thriller that never lets up on misdirection. In hindsight, it is a simple premise, but Soderbergh masterfully strings it out into an intricate, meticulously detailed and carefully thought-out mystery with the interplay between the characters superbly crafted (so much so that it reminded me of the excellent Wild Things).
A film such as this that is so heavily reliant on its central characters needs its actors to convince and to deliver. As well as the majority of the supporting cast (I’ve always been a bit sceptical about Catherine Zeta Jones’ talents and Channing Tatum had very little to work with), Mara and Law did just that. Mara in particular is terrifically compelling and note perfect throughout with an understated and careful performance. Jude Law is also a notable screen presence and puts in a solid effort.
This is all about Soderbergh, though. If this is to be his swansong before he retires then he will be going out on massive high. Side Effects is an absolutely terrific, intelligent and hugely satisfying film that is very highly recommended.