‘Side Effects’ thrills and excites

Posted May 8, 2013


We’ve all seen the ads for anti-depression medication; the sad woman sitting alone looking forlorn who starts taking a pill.  All of a sudden she’s wearing colors and laughing and going out shopping with her friends while the narrator speeds through the scary side effects that no one pays attention to.

The pharmaceutical thriller “Side Effects” explores the dangerous possibilities of antidepressant medication as you follow the story of a woman whose world falls apart after she begins taking one of these drugs.

Steven Soderbergh’s latest film “Side Effects” is perfect for anyone who enjoys a darkly themed psychological thriller with numerous plot twists and turns. Soderbergh’s cinematography is slightly reminiscent of an antidepressant commercial, most of the scenes reflecting the doom and gloom apparent in a dismal state.

Though filmed in New York City, Soderbergh’s style of editing and filming portrays the city as distressing and bleak.  The muted colors and carefully controlled lighting help evoke the dreary and uncomfortable mood throughout the movie, enhanced even more so by the accompanying music.

The haunting score written by Thomas Newman sets the eerie tone of the movie from the very beginning.  It mimics the style of music played in antidepressant medication commercials before the character begins to take the medicine and they are solemn and in a depressing fog.  The music continues throughout the movie as an underlying layer that helps perpetuate the melancholic mood of the movie.

The plot has many twists and turns that keep the audience guessing throughout the whole movie.  The movie is about a woman named Emily (Rooney Mara) who is dealing with depression after her husband (Channing Tatum) returns from spending four years in prison for insider trading.

Though he promises her soon they will be on top of things again, Emily seems distant and somber.  She begins to seek psychiatric help for her depression after she made a suicide attempt. Her psychiatrist, Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law), gives her a new antidepressant called Ablixa that he is being paid to study.

Ablixa, supposedly a miracle drug, begins to cause some serious side effects and what the viewer thinks they know of the plot begins to unravel.  Dr. Banks begins to consult Emily’s previous psychiatrist (Catherine Zeta-Jones) on Emily’s case. The plot spirals from there and keeps the audience on their toes, trying to guess the ending before it happens.

Rooney Mara (“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”) shines in her roll of a ghostlike character suffering from depression.  She does a beautiful job of portraying this broken character with hollow eyes yet a quiet intensity that was also shown by Mara in “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” Mara is quietly stunning and handles the roll with grace.

Jude Law plays a British psychiatrist who came to America to practice because people in America view people seeing psychiatrists as getting better, rather than being mentally ill.  The doctor eventually becomes so engrossed in Emily’s case that he loses his practice and almost loses his family too.  Jude Law was perfectly cast and did an excellent job with the roll.

Channing Tatum (“Magic Mike”) plays a character that is subdued and forgettable. He gave a lackluster performance in what was a boring roll to begin with.  This character was the only part of the movie lacking development and depth.

“Side Effects” will be the final Soderbergh motion picture to go to theaters before he semi retires at age 50.  Soderbergh’s previous directing credits include “Magic Mike,” “Contagion,” “Erin Brockovich,” and the “Ocean’s” trilogy.  He has left his retirement plans open-ended, not ruling out a return to directing and producing in a few years after pursuing other projects.

“Side Effects” is thrilling and exciting.  The film channels everyone’s fear of people not believing their sanity while warning about the dangerous possibilities of side effects.  Anyone who enjoys a movie that is psychologically stimulating and keeps their mind racing will love this classic Soderbergh movie.

  • Title: “Side Effects”
  • Genre: Psychological thriller, crime
  • Director: Steven Soderbergh
  • Cast: Rooney Mara, Channing Tatum, Jude Law, Catherine Zeta-Jones
  • Length: 106 minutes
  • Release date: Feb. 8, 2013
  • Rated: R for sexuality, nudity, violence and language
  • Theaters: AMC, Cobb, and Regal theaters
  • Rating: A