‘Side Effects’ offers wild ride

Posted March 21, 2013


“Side Effects” is a roller coaster ride of a film that will keep movie-goers on the edges of their seats. This provocative thriller features a star-studded cast including Rooney Mara, Jude Law, Channing Tatum and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Side Effects Movie PosterThe carefully crafted plot deals with depression, mental issues and the business behind prescription drugs.

What makes “Side Effects” a must-see is not only the solid acting, but the many visually powerful scenes that will linger in the minds of audiences well after the credits roll.

Although there is some heavy foreshadowing in this pharmaceutical flick about the effects of a new antidepressant, the scenes help guide viewers through a story that is packed with twists and turns.

“Side Effects” centers on Emily Taylor–played by Mara — a 20-something woman coping with a troubled marriage and depression. Mara, who starred in David Fincher’s “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” (2011), fits the role of Emily perfectly. Mara’s facial features and acting chops convince the audience of her psychosis and make her transition as a character throughout the movie feel believable.

Additionally, Jude Law ‘s portrayal of the psychiatrist Dr. Jonathan Banks helps move the plot forward. His persistent, crafty and sympathetic character makes “Side Effects” enjoyable and adds a realistic feel to the film.

The film succeeds in making scenes feel believable because of the medical terminology and psych jargon used. However, it is done even-handedly and serves to help the audience understand the medical and even legal implications of antidepressant medication.

Also, the fact that “Side Effects” shows the business aspect of the pharmaceutical industry sets it apart from other psychological thrillers. In the film, Law’s character does consulting for drug trials for a new antidepressant medication’s company. The story does a good job of depicting why doctors agree to these types of trials, as well as showing the dangers of such activity. The legal ramifications of prescribing new, cutting-edge medication serve as the backbone of the story.

Much of the film utilizes lighting to help set the deep, unsettling mood. However, the use of shadows and lighting is not overdone and actually helps to create suspense in certain scenes. It also works well to show the state of mind of the characters. In addition, it functions in a way to make the audience feel anxious yet pleasantly engaged.

The score used in the film also combines with the lighting and jarring transitions to build up suspense and keep viewers on the edge of their seats. The music and dramatic sounds work to highlight important scenes. There are several scenes that are sure to illicit strong reactions from audience members thanks to carefully crafted technical elements such as these.

However, there are some scenes in the film that feel like they slow down the pace of the story. The beginning scenes start off dramatic and exciting, but towards the middle the movie seems to be lacking movement. It is as though the first part of the film promises a fast-paced plot, but somewhere in the middle things get a little boring — too much talking and not enough action.

Overall, “Side Effects “had a believable storyline because everything comes to light and there are no loose ends. It is also important to note that all of the characters have some sort of motivation to act the way they do. The solid acting also helps to bring this thriller of a story to life.

“Side Effects” is definitely a must-see.

  • Title: “Side Effects”
  • Release date: Feb. 8, 2013 (USA)
  • Starring: Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Channing Tatum
  • Director: Steven Soderbergh
  • Producer: Lorenzo di Bonaventura
  • Distributed by: Open Road Films
  • Run Time: 106 minutes
  • MPAA Rating: R
  • My rating: 4 stars out of 5