Film: Side Effects Director: Steven Soderbergh Viewed: 3.2.13
Steven Soderbergh has done it again. He has directed so many great films and this one, Side Effects, is rumored to be his last. Noooooo! Side Effects is a smart psychological thriller about a woman, Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara), who is re-united with her newly-released jailbird husband Martin (Channing Tatum) after four years. Martin had pulled a Martha, insider trading of course. Shortly following his return, Emily becomes diagnosed with depression after attempting suicide by running her vehicle into a wall in a parking garage. Her psychiatrist Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law) prescribes her several types of anti-depressant medication until finally reaching one that worked (Ablixa), along with medication to aid in her side effects to the anti-depression fix.
“In the U.K. if you’re seeing a psychiatrist it is assumed you’re sick. In America, if you’re seeing a psychiatrist it is assumed you’re getting better.”
At First Glance: Some thoughts prior to my viewing: 1) This looks A LOT like Contagion. 2) No, not Channing Tatum! I don’t care how many abs he’s got, he’s the worst. 3) Depression is over-diagnosed; I wonder how the film will address this.
The Goods, Bads & the Overall: SPOILER ALERT During the first half of the film, Soderbergh stirs up the viewer’s imagination with enticing you to try and decide who the real bad guy is after Emily, while sleepwalking, stabs her husband Martin to death. Is it the patient, who obviously needs help beyond a pill twice daily? The psychiatrist, who dealt the prescription with sleepwalking side effects? Emily’s previous psychiatrist, Dr. Victoria Siebert (Catherine Zeta-Jones) for looking/sounding too sultry? Or is it Soderbergh for casting Tatum who is non-believable as a high-end exec? Emily is acquitted on basis of insanity. After a huge curve ball, it is unveiled that Emily and Victoria are lovers and planned the entire murder scheme to make Ablixa’s competitor stock skyrocket, and ultimately Ablixa’s stock to plummet.
The overall vibe of the film felt edgy, suspenseful and adequate. I was never once bored. The memory montages of Emily’s more happy times looked like poor editing until realizing that they were intentionally shot to look like all anti-depressant drug commercials. TOTAL GENIUS. The biggest problems with the film for me was that Catherine Zeta-Jones’ character is extremely one-dimensional and narrow. The soundtrack was still a bit awkward for me as is the case with other Soderbergh films (not all). Overall, I give the movie a strong 8 out of 10.