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Side Effects

Side Effects

What She said:

She

Side Effects is a Steven Soderbergh psychological thriller about the derailed psychiatric/pharmaceutical industry.  I know, that sounds totally boring.  Let me further explain.  The movie starts out as what feels like a commentary about today’s generation of people, living on miracle SSRI drugs as a means of allowing them to cope with their depression and stress—the Prozac generation.  The film follows Emily (Rooney Mara), a 20-something whose husband was recently released from prison for a white collar crime.  Emily has always struggled with her psychological issues, but these newest adjustments seem like too much.  As her husband (played by Channing Tatum) tries to get back on his feet, Emily starts to see psychiatrist, Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law).  Dr. Banks begins throwing drug after drug at Emily in an attempt to make her feel better, but nothing seems to work.  Everything comes to a head when Emily finally snaps.  I won’t give too much away, but she gets herself in big trouble, and peripherally Dr.  Banks then gets in trouble.  He begins to realize, though, that things may not be as they seem, and goes on a quest to clear his name.

So, as I said before, this movie starts as a commentary on today’s world of psychiatric pharmaceuticals.  But then it morphs into something entirely different.  It becomes more of a blackmail drama.  Catherine Zeta-Jones comes into focus as Dr. Victoria Siebert, a doctor that Emily used to see.  She’s key to the whole plot.  The acting in the film is pretty solid.  Jude Law in particular puts on a decent performance as a desperate man who is scrambling as his life falls apart around him.  Rooney Mara does a good job playing a troubled, bratty, and somewhat entitled woman—doesn't seem like a big stretch to me.

The plot has a few major twists, and I have to admit, I’m not in love with the final turn.  It actually felt a little bit contrived—just a tad too over the top.  With the weaving plot of this film, you would think that it would actually become a little hard to follow, but the story from beginning to end is surprisingly linear.  While the plot is somewhat fascinating, I would not call it thrilling.  I wasn’t falling asleep or anything, but I certainly was not on the edge of my seat. 

The movie does feel distinctly Steven Soderbergh.  It has that raw cinematography and the swift pacing that are characteristic of his style.  If you’re a fan of his style, you’ll probably like this. 

Side Effects, while interesting, was not my favorite movie.  It was good enough, but wasn’t the type of film that will stick with me for very long.  That said, I’m sure many others will find this flick noteworthy, and so if you’re into this genre, then I wouldn’t rule out this title for a rent.

Thumbs half up.

Side Effects

What He said:

He

I vaguely remember hearing about this movie somewhere along the line, but it disappeared as quickly as it popped up. I’m not even sure if it got a wide release or just made the round at film festivals and smaller artsy theaters. I just know that I did hear of it, forgot I did, but when we came across it on Amazon Prime recently, I remembered I had heard of it before.

Steven Soderbergh is hit or miss with me. I really hated Solaris.  I didn’t love Traffic either. The Ocean movies (the ones I saw at least) were so-so. I didn’t love them, didn’t hate them. I thought The Informant was kind of dumb. I remember enjoying Erin Brokovich, Contagion, and Magic Mike. The latter two are some of his more recent movies, so I was definitely interested in Side Effects.

Side Effects

Martin Taylor (Channing Tatum) has recently been release from prison for a white collar crime. He hopes to get his personal and professional life back on track.

His wife Emily (Rooney Mara) has remained loyal to him during his four-year stint in prison. Her loyalty has come at a cost though. Once Martin has returned him and talks about getting things back to the way they used to be – they were once wealthy – depression begins to set in. She realizes how far they’ve fallen and it begins to get to her. She attempts to take her own life.

It is at this point that she meets Dr. Jonathan Banks. Jonathan (Jude Law) begins treating her for depression amongst other things. Both Emily and Jonathan’s lives would change for the worse when they meet each other. Emily becomes very dependent on both the doctor and the medicine he prescribes her. Jonathan’s career and personal life are put in jeopardy as a result of treating Emily.

Reviewing thrillers can sometimes be challenging, because you don’t want to give too much away. The point of a good mystery is to watch it all unfold before your eyes. All I will say is that found the movie to an entertaining thriller. It was well-acted, unpredictable, and had good mystery. This movie kept me guessing and I enjoyed the ride.

Rating: Thumb up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on June 2, 2013.  

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