Posted by Cynthia Spataro on February 12, 2013 at 12:10 am
Director Steven Sodebergh’s self-proclaimed final theatrical film “Side Effects” is definitely worth the watch for those who like a good mystery/thriller. With a solid cast lead by Jude Law, Channing Tatum, Rooney Mara, and Catherine Zeta-Jones, it is a film that you will be trying to piece together after the first twenty minutes and most likely find some satisfaction in the conclusion.
We are introduced to the young couple Emily and Martin Taylor played by Rooney Mara and Channing Tatum respectively, as Martin is getting out of prison after serving a stint for insider trading. They are a couple who have to start over, and as the story progresses we see Emily struggling with depression that does not necessarily have roots with her husband serving time. Eventually this leads to her seeing Jude Law’s character Dr. Jonathan Banks, the psychiatrist with a human touch. Emily is placed on various medications until she finally hits on something that seemingly makes her life return to normal. What happens next is shocking, it is claimed to be a side effect of the medications Emily is taking, and the basis of the mystery at the heart of the film.
Without giving up any spoilers, the twists and turns of the story are enough to keep you interested and even on the edge of your seat for some of the film, but about halfway through you will probably have a general idea of what is going on and then it’s just a matter of how the conclusion will play out. This is where the script lacks a bit – there needed to be more intrigue and depth added to the last half of the film, and it seems more like an old time thriller than the newer more complex character studies that successful modern films tend to include. The film really does not strike as a commentary on the pharmaceutical industry or psychiatric treatment in the United States if it was aiming for this it definitely missed the mark as it only scratches the surface it needs in order to forward the plot. It does however read as a decent thriller that seems like it originated from a short story or novel.
The two notable performances are Law and Mara, as they are the central players and tend to work well in scenes together. Neither actor does anything outstanding in comparison to their current body of work, but they delivered the best of the script. Thankfully Law gets to play the part with his English roots and accent intact (there’s nothing worse than a bad American accent). There is also good on-screen chemistry between all of the actors – and non-chemistry in the case of the ailing Emily with her husband Martin. Rooney Mara captures her character’s despair and shows her versatility once again.
Overall “Side Effects” is a worthwhile but not an outstanding film-it is a quality thriller that is a thoughtfully crafted. Even though Sodebergh has seemingly made his move out of Hollywood after this film, at least he leaves behind a solidly entertaining film as his last.