There’s a certain satisfaction and, to a degree, a sigh of disappointment, when you realize which way the plot of a movie is heading a third of the way into the film.You start looking at your watch to see how long you have to wait until you can leave the theater, resigning yourself
to watching the rest of the movie play out exactly as you had predicted. Entertainment, after all, really comes down to the new and the surprising. So imagine the greater satisfaction, and to a degree, the sigh of relief, when said film goes from Plot A to wildly pivoting to Plot E in a matter of seconds without losing touch with reality or quality. That feeling, more or less, sums up the film Side Effects, where the film’s first 20 minutes establish a clear path for the rest of the plot to follow, and then it turns it on its head three times fast and sends it hurtling into unknown and eerily transfixing territory.
You’ll notice I’m being rather and sparse with the plot details. Due to the nature of the particular film, the less you know about Side Effects, the better your experience will be. This is a mystery-suspense drama and there are wild turns at every corner, even places where you thought there couldn’t possibly be a corner to turn. I highly suggest you don’t watch or read any reviews (except this one) and take my word that it is a fantastically dark movie that will keep you on the edge of your seat and almost demands a second viewing to fully appreciate some of the performances.
Rooney Mara and Jude Law star in Side Effects as patient and psychiatrist, respectively. Mara’s character, Emily, has been suffering from depression since her husband, Channing Tatum, was sent to jail for three years for insider trading.
Once her husband comes home, Emily’s depression seems to worsen, so she goes to see a new psychiatrist, Jude Law, who begins prescribing a new drug, Ablixa. That is literally all I can tell you, and that’s just the first 20 minutes or so. Although the film runs at just shy of two hours, it speeds by purely from adrenaline and suspense. Catherine Zeta-Jones also co-stars as another psychiatrist pushing the same anti-depression drug. Mara and Law in particular offer spectacular performances (Mara’s being deliciously layered and demanding repeat viewings to fully appreciate).
Interestingly, this is also supposedly director Steven Soderbergh’s last film. Soderbergh announced that he was officially retiring as of the release of this film. It’ll be interesting to see if this is a “real” retirement, or if this will be the same “retirement” that Anthony Hopkins proclaimed (despite Thor and several other films). The music composition by Thomas Newman particular stands out as eerie and somewhat risky in terms of disturbing the mood, but its out-of-placeness adds to the “uncomfortable” factor permeating throughout the movie – and I mean that in the best way possible. Whether you are a Soderbergh fan or have never heard of him before (I knew of him but couldn’t recall a movie I’d seen by him), this is a fantastic movie that I suggest all see before you get spoiled about it, and take a friend with you so you can dissect the juicy parts afterwards.
Side Effects earns FOUR Ablixa pills out of FIVE, so go see it before spoilers ruin a perfect mystery-suspense finale
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