MOVIE REVIEW: SIDE EFFECTS (2013)Posted: March 2, 2013
Running time: 1 hour, 46 minutes
Cast: Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Channing Tatum
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Side Effects is supposedly Steven Soderbergh’s last feature film. This is hard to believe, coming from a workaholic director who has released a film almost every single year since his debut in 1989 with Sex, Lies, and Videotape. If Soderbergh is really bowing out then he’s leaving on a semi-high note.
Emily Taylor (Mara) is the clear star of the first half of the film. Her husband Martin (Tatum) comes home after doing a stint in prison for insider trading, and he finds his wife suicidal and depressed. After a horrific suicide attempts she is assigned a psychiatrist named Jonathan Banks (Law), and after he meets with her previous psychiatrist Victoria (Zeta-Jones) he decides to place her on an experimental drug named Ablixa. Let’s just say the drug is experimental for a reason, due to its unfortunate side effects. In the second half of the film Dr. Banks tries to correct the wrongs that he made, and in the process he unveils a larger conspiracy.
Soderbergh knows how to create stylish films, and he also creates atmospheres that are tense, suffocating, and uneasy so we can experience Emily’s suffering. Credit also goes out to Rooney Mara, who maintains a blank, vacant look in many of her scenes although her body movements suggests something else is going on in her brain.
I also have to give Soderbergh kudos for his versatility. At first I found myself watching an engaging thriller, and then the movie seamlessly transitions into a fast paced ‘whodunit’ mystery. Jude Law as a confused and frantic psychiatrist was fun to watch as well.
Reluctantly I do need to mention the sloppy ending. With most thrillers there is a distinct formula where the characters find themselves in a bad situation, then they investigate to figure out why certain events happened to them, and finally everything comes together at the end. The same thing happens here, but Side Effects loses all of the momentum and suspense that it gathered throughout the film, and at the end we are simply told everything that we need to know. Now I have no desire to re-watch this because I know when this film stops being a thriller and simply becomes a tell-all of the drug Ablixa.
Despite all of that, I will definitely recommend this film to anyone who needs a good weekend movie. If you watched Side Effects please let me know what you thought about it!