"Side Effects" -- movie review
Release date: Feb. 8, 2013
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Written by: Scott Z. Burns
Starring: Channing Tatum, Rooney Mara, Jude Law and Catherine Zeta-Jones
One thing is for sure -- Steven Soderbergh loves Channing Tatum. The dude has appeared in the director's last three films. Last year they teamed up for the ploddingly slow "Haywire" and the goofy, male stripper, after school special "Magic Mike". This time around, Tatum gets to keep his clothes on and the result is a smart and suspenseful thriller that will keep you guessing right up until the film's final moments. That is, of course, assuming you can keep up with the convoluted and diabolically twisted plot.
The new thriller from Soderbergh, "Side Effects" begins as a drama about the dangers of prescription drugs, more specifically those pesky little anti-depressants that fuel so much controversy. Some people love them for the lucidity while others detest them because of the ...side effects. Do you see where this is going? The story centers on Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara), who is having problems being a loving and supportive wife after her husband, Martin (Tatum), is released from prison after serving time for insider trading. A lifelong victim of depression, Emily attempts suicide, but wants to blame the attempt on a momentary lapse in judgment.
When she hears about a brand new drug on the market, Ablixa, Emily hopes it can help her to get back to being herself and living a normal life with her husband. She starts seeing a psychiatrist, Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law) and at first the pills seem to be helping. Then about halfway through the movie, something amazing happens. Soderbergh and screenwriter Scott Z. Burns ("Contagion", "The Bourne Ultimatum") spins a crafty and intelligent web that will actually keep the audience guessing right along with the characters as all of the lives in the film spin wildly out of control.
As always, Soderbergh gets the most out of his talented cast. Rooney Mara, who played crazy in "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" plays crazy again here but this time around, it's on a completely new level. Channing Tatum is solid but he isn't given much to do. Jude Law is once again terrific, playing both sides as a sympathetic character whose life is torn apart when he is put in the public spotlight for his involvement in a murder. Even Catherine Zeta-Jones, who has been stiff lately in movies like "Broken City", gets to chew a little scenery as one of Emily's former therapists.
Trust me, the less you know about "Side Effects", the better. Soderbergh has been a little hit or miss lately but this movie is proof the director still has it in him to put out a crafty and inventive movie. The movie gets a little confusing towards the end, but that's only because there is so much coming together, it almost requires a second viewing. The good news is that the movie is intelligent, engaging and hypnotic as the first truly great thriller of the year.
Subscribe to my Movie Examiner column at the top of the page and get my reviews sent right to your inbox.