Review: Side Effects
Young Emily welcomes home her white-collar criminal husband from jail, but depression takes over as her life is not the one she knew before. A chance meeting with a new psychiatrist offers Emily a path to happiness through a new drug, but former relationships, past incidents, and unforeseen side effects start to alter her world, and everyone around her.
Who’s In It?
Director Steven Soderberg joins some of his favourite (and attractive) actors with some new talented(and attractive) ones as well. Rooney Mara plays Emily Taylor, Channing Tatum (Magic Mike, Haywire) is her husband, Jude Law (Contagion) is Emily’s dedicated psychiatrist, while Catherine Zeta-Jones is a welcomed presence as her past counselor.
Yet another beautiful, glossy, and curious film by Soderbergh who has been on a solid run of late, Side Effects is a gripping and gorgeous, if not at occasionally rushed and convoluted. A Soderbergh movie is easy to spot, with intimate, extended close-ups of his stars, and a cast of whom carry with them both an earnestness and mystery. Music seemingly plays underneath every scene, implying an a sense of urgency; but you’re always in good hands.
While there are threads connecting his films, Soderbergh is always experimental, and here he presents a complex and suspenseful mystery, with characters looking to better themselves psychologically, financially, and personally, skirting the line between risk and reward. It is more than just a commentary on our highly medicated society, but that certainly is there underneath.
The film opens with a slow zoom on an apartment window, suggesting what we are about to see is a dramatic peak into the lives of a select few. Inside we see a blood-stained hallway and an ominous card, and quickly flashback to Emily visiting her imprisoned husband Martin just a day before his release.
In his brown jumpsuit, he could be a common thug, a drug dealer perhaps. On his return, we learn he was convicted of insider trading, loves his mother and his wife, and is ready to get back on top again. Looks are deceiving, and not everything is exactly as it seems, as Soderbergh, with his wonderful cast, slowly unravels a captivating drama that is the first great movie of 2013. Thank goodness.
Should You See It?
Yes, and pay attention, for you may have to see it twice.
“You watch the commercial on TV, you see people are getting better,” says a concerned mother, referring to a new (and fictional) drug being prescribed by a financially-compensated doctor.