A key theme in Side Effects: Perception is reality. And a key virtue one needs to have when watching this: Patience.
The 95 minute story directed by Steven Soderbergh is stacked with more twists than a Notre Dame Football player with a fake internet girlfriend. But the difference being, the movie is actually worth paying attention to.
When Rooney Mara’s Wall Street husband, Channing Tatum, is released from prison after four years, the couple tries to piece their once promising life back together. Thing is, Mara is seemingly depressed by the “adjustment” of having her hubby back in the picture for some reason, and starts exhibiting peculiar behavior. In the effort to try to nip this in the bud, she agrees to start seeing a psychiatrist played by Jude Law.
As the Law delves deeper into why Mara is acting strange, he turns to a fellow colleague, Catherine Zeta-Jones, in the hopes of testing out a new prescription, and profitable, drug that is about to be released on the market.
Keeping the plot summary vague is a necessity for those interested in seeing this sporadic, and at times, obnoxious, little mystery play out. While it wisely inserts the aforementioned twists at all the right junctures - eliciting more intrigue – the cleverness/twisting nature goes on overkill in the final sequences. And one could get lost in all the intrinsic, and far-reaching, details. However, you should get it, even if you can’t fully explain right away to someone leaving the theater (don’t judge).
What provides a nice assist is the script does expound on the characters and gives them some necessary depth to help sell the actions later on. Seeing Mara and Law chatting takes up a decent chunk of this; but as they go off on their own and engage in other personal subplots, these moments are also fairly interesting and more-or-less, thicken the plot. And the level of acting is what also enables one able to buy into the out-of-nowhere angles that are squeezed (possibly forced) into the climatic showdown of sorts.
Overall, Side Effects is aptly guided by Soderbergh, despite slight over-reaching and plain just-getting-a-bit-crazy at times as it starts to lock-up. With that being said, many of the surprising turns in the first-half bait the audience and then guides them into a semi-fulfilling conclusion, even though the storytelling at the end isn't as paced as well as the prior portions.
Side Effects is rated R and opens in the Tampa Bay market on Friday.