Have you ever felt as though you’re not as happy as you should be? Do you ever have moments when dark thoughts enter your mind? Do you wonder if you need a pill to make you the best you can be? With television bombarding us with commercials hawking depression medication and various types of performance enhancing wonder drugs it would be totally understandable if you have questioned yourself. We have become a nation of pill poppers looking to swallow a quick fix to a better life. But there can be serious consequences to this culture, not all of which are quickly summed up or even dreamed of in the fine print. “Side Effects” examines such possible consequences in a taut tale you never see coming.
Director Steven Soderbergh delivers an intelligent, jaw dropping must-see thriller that is even more riveting than his 2011 killer disease thriller “Contagion.” The grimly mysterious opening shot tells us something bad has happened yet offers us an open hand to come along and learn more. We of course willfully accept the invitation. That same hand then slowly closes and steadily tightens its grip.
Jude Law, Rooney Mara, and Catherine Zeta-Jones are all perfectly cast and deliver low- key realistic performances that beautifully match the film’s tone. Mara is a young woman battling depression and loss of awareness. Law is the psychiatrist who tries to help her, ultimately by prescribing a new drug suggested by her previous doctor (Zeta-Jones). Suffice it to say there are side effects and consequences.
This is one movie experience that will reward you more the less you know going in. It is an honest thriller from start to finish that never cheats and that leaves you totally satisfied. “Side Effects” is also so subtly crafted you don’t realize just how deeply engrossed you’ve been until the final credits roll. The powerhouse ending brings a big exhale followed by a simple but apt one word summation: wow.