Film Review: Side Effects

 

 

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In what’s rumored to be Steven Soderbergh final film comes a physiological thriller that’s twists and turns constantly and may have you leaving the cinema with a bit of a headache.  First coming to the attention of the filmmaking community with his Palme d’Or wining film Sex, Lies and Videotape; Soderbergh has had a mixture of flops and big hits, including Traffic and the Oceans trilogy in his 24 year career. His past two films Contagion and Magic Mike has been box-office successes which may suggest why Soderbergh has announced his retirement, choosing to go out on a high, instead of one day crashing and burning.

A film of two half, at first Side Effects follows Emily Taylor (Mara) a despairing gaunt looking young woman who’s husband Martin (Tatum) a financial prodigy is incarnated due to insider trading. Early in the narrative Martin is released from prison, but this does little for Emily’s state of mind, resulting in Emily trying to commit suicide by driving her car into a brick wall.  This places her under the care of physiatrist Dr. Jonathan Banks who prescribes her a concoction of different drugs to help her battle her depression, but these have no effect as we see her edging towards a platform edge at a subway station later in the film.

After this second failed suicide attempt Dr. Banks try a different approach and gives Emily a controversial new drug Ablixa. This drug drives Emily to an act which Dr. Banks could have never have anticipated, landing her in jail and Dr. Banks in a world of trouble with his partner, colleges and the media; practically ending his career.  This is where the film shifts into its second phase as Dr. Banks tries to unravel the mystery surrounding this event and to clear his name.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) star Rooney Mara gives an admirable performance as the despondent Emily. Magic Mike star Channing Tatum’s brief appearance as Emily’s ex-con husband Martin, fails to make much of an impact with such little screen time.  This in contrast to Enemy at the Gates star Jude Law who provides an accomplished performance as Dr. Jonathan Banks, who as his world is falling apart in front of his eyes, manages to keep his cool in pursuit of the truth. This film contain no jaw dropping effects and is mainly narrative driven, but to the trained eye is framed in a way that adds whole a new dimension. If this film Soderbergh’s last, we can say he left on a masterpiece

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Cast: Catherine Zeta-Jones, Channing Tatum, Jude Law, Rooney Mara
Runtime: 106 minutes
Cert UK: 15

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