Side Effects (2013)

Graphic Designer Emily (Rooney Mara) begins to emotionally unravel just after her husband (Channing Tatum) is released from prison for insider trading. After a failed suicide attempt, she is taken under the wing of psychiatrist, Jonathan Banks who puts her on a prescription of new wünderdrug, Ablixa; an experimental drug Banks is paid to promote on behalf of the pharmaceutical company. Unfortunately, the drug takes an unfortunate hold of Emily and before long, Banks finds himself on a downward spiral.

And that’s about as much as we can tell you.

Like some of the best thrillers in life, the less you know about Side Effects going in, the better the experience. Steven Soderbergh’s directorial departure seems to start off as a criticism of the drug dependent lifestyle that’s peddled out daily in America by THE MAN and the inherent nature we all have to feed off other’s pain to justify not overcoming our own. Everyone Emily meets has their tale of woe and their chemical of choice to overcome it. Whilst Emily breaks apart, the rest of the world feels empathy but with the desire to let their woes be made vocal as well. Everyone is together but they are alone. However, before you know it Soderbergh changes gears and  it all starts getting as twisty turny as a mix-up in a pretzel factory. It’s not without saying that when this happens, to paraphrase The Matrix, you’ll find yourself reaching for the red or blue pill. You can accept what’s happening and enjoy the ride or you can run out screaming for a sequel to Magic Mike.

We had a blast. Soderbergh clearly relished making this film as it bounces around defying genre types and audience expectations. This may not be the film you expected Soderbergh to make, but when does he do the expected?

Unfortunately, you have to take the rough with the smooth. In this instance, the rough comes in the form of rival psychiatrist, Victoria Siebert played with mahogany splendor by Catherine Zeta Jones. We still struggle to this day to understand how Zeta Jones keeps getting work and Side Effects doesn’t help matters. Adopting an awful American accent, Zeta Jones pouts and attempts to simmer at every given opportunity. Her relationship with Law is so intricate to the plot, we just wish they’d held out for someone better.

Still, this is just a drop of ink in the ocean. Side Effects is a compelling thriller that will keep you guessing up until the end. It’s also at times, a tribute to the thrillers of the past such as The Third Man and Vertigo. Take it once in the evening with a glass of water and see us in the morning.

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