As Emily, Rooney Mara is the waif-like victim of what appears to be rogue pharmacology. Her husband Martin (Channing Tatum) has returned home from prison for an insider trading rap that may or may not be the catalyst to her depression.
Dr. Jonathan Bank (Jude Law) and Dr. Victoria Siebert (Catherine Zeta-Jones) are her current and past shrinks. Both waltz with big pharma for perks directly, and perhaps indirectly. They circle one another while protecting their individual interests with a rabid self-preservation after Emily implodes.
These two characters are the real gas to this engine.
Law’s ability to display intelligence and ultimately be exposed for seductions (both professionally and personally) makes him a perfect choice here. Zeta-Jones is a powerhouse and her Dr. Siebert is a strong foil not easily dismissed. And will not be.
'Side Effects' slowly ratchets up the stakes as the corners reveal secrets and manipulations all hallmarks of Soderbergh's work. Known to relish and exploit the imperfections of thinking humans, his skills have only sharpened over the years.
Did Dr. Siebert and Emily end their interaction? Did Emily and Dr. Banks extend theirs beyond the normal client-patient boundaries? (Is Law playing against type?) The crosses and double crosses escalate into a crescendo that provides a satisfyingly unique experience for the intelligent movie goer. The story is clever and smart. The deceptions are covered by skillful practitioners in a game of cat and mouse with no perceivable mouse. Just keen, intelligent manipulators.
If you’re looking for a Channing Tatum movie, this is not it.
As Soderbergh's alleged swan song, 'Side Effects' delivers a personal homage to his own unique voice. With decades to perfect his craft, Soderbergh's voice remains distinctive in a sea of commercial violence and banality.