Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Nothing is ever what it seems, nothing is ever really as good as it appears. Have you ever seen an ad for a pharmaceutical product? Of course you have. At the end of the commercial (or in small print at the bottom of the print ad), there is usually copy that — after telling you how wonderful the product is and can cure all of your ills and make you better — fills you in on the possible side effects of the product, which generally speaking often sound worse than what you are suffering from in the first place (“The use of this produce can cause your glands to swell, your teeth to fall out, night sweats, chills, infertility, cotton mouth, gangrene of the sciatica, heart palpitations, blindness, and Zombieitis”). Yeah, let me totally have some of that!
Well such is the case for Emily Taylor (Mara), who is the hapless wife of Martin (Tatum) a Wall Street wizard who, on their wedding day, gets himself arrested for insider trading. It is now four years later and Martin is getting out of prison and attempting to get his life back in order. Unfortunately for Emily, things aren’t going so well. She is disassociated, listless, anxious, and unable to deal with the world around her. In fact, she has become so depressed that she crashes her car into the wall of her parking garage. This last stunt lands her in the ER with a visit from the shrink on duty.
Dr. Jonathan Banks (Law) is the physician on duty and when Emily refuses to be hospitalized for observation, but promises to come and see him regularly, he acquiesces, and once they are in regular sessions, and after conferring with her previous doctor Victoria Siebert (Zeta-Jones) he begins to prescribe meds to her, which is where the fun really starts. Apparently the drug he puts her on is something called Ablixa, which has an unfortunate side effect of sleepwalking. Not so bad, up until when Emily winds up killing her husband in a "sleepwalking" state. With Banks’ help Emily’s lawyer plea bargains her into mental hospital confinement with Dr. Banks the supervising physician.
Unfortunately for Banks, the media has gotten hold of the story and now his practice is crumbling around him. His partners have booted him their practice and his wife has left him. Now, even though the case seems closed Dr. Banks can’t seem to accept responsibility for what has transpired and begins his own investigation into what really happened in order to clear his name. It is at this point (about halfway into the film) that really turns it from a standard medical malpractice film into something much darker and far more sinister.
This is the type of film that we truly love, one that starts off as seeming to be about something, and winds out being about something else, Alfred Hitchcock called that first thing — the thing that kick starts the action and moves the plot forward — the McGuffin. However once we get into the story a bit, something happens, and now we have ourselves a movie. This film does a most excellent job of not only setting this up, but then making the turn and delivering on the action. True, we were able to spot the turn before we got there, but that just made it all the better.
Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing films for some 30 years. During that time, his movie reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web. Subscribe to receive regular articles and movie reviews.