Starring Rooney Mara
& Jude Law
Directed by Stephen Soderbergh
R, 106 min.
“Side effects may include...” We’ve all heard the barrage of patter at the end of TV commercials, and seen the teeny print in magazine ads, detailing the litany of often-unpleasant things that might happen---other than the intended results---by using various pharmaceutical products.
Now a movie takes that idea and runs with it---and you’d better hold on. It’s a twisty, turn-y ride that starts out with one story, becomes another midway through, and adds some other juicy, jarring jolts along the way.
It’s difficult to describe much about “Side Effects” without spoiling it by spilling too much light into the deliciously dark corners, but this crackling psychological thriller stars Rooney (“The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”) Mara as a young Manhattan-ite, Emily, whose husband, Martin (Channing Tatum), has just been released as the movie begins from a four-year prison term for insider trading.
The couple’s reunion isn’t as joyous as they’d like, however. Emily, with a prior history of depression, returns to a frail, possibly suicidal state as Martin talks excitedly about regaining his financial high ground. Deliberately crashing her car into a concrete wall in her apartment’s parking garage puts her under the care of hospital psychiatrist Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law), who treats her with anti-depressants to “stop the brain from telling you you’re sad.”
One of the side effects of the (fictional) anti-depressant Dr. Banks prescribes for Emily is sleepwalking.
But let’s back up a few scenes: We already know, from the movie’s opening, that’s there’s been a murder. We just don’t know who’s been murdered or who did it. Once the movie gets going, though, the pathway to the crime becomes pretty obvious, pretty early. Then the dastardly deed actually occurs, and we see it happen.
But perhaps all is not as it appears---and the movie then shifts into its slippery second act.
Director Stephen Soderbergh, whose resume is packed with more than two dozen feature films, including the “Ocean’s Eleven” franchise, “Traffic,” “Contagion” and “Erin Brockovich,” masterfully crafts a complex, shades-of-Hitchcock tale that’s actually two movies in one, both of them playing off each other in smart, surprising ways. His camera hovers, circles and swirls around his characters, as if it, like the audience, is sizing them up, trying to figure out who they really are: criminals, victims, someone caught in the middle, or something else entirely?
Catherine Zeta-Jones has a pivotal role as another psychiatrist with a mysterious connection to Emily’s past.
You’ll want to pay attention to soak up all the details; how, for instance, the opening and closing zoom shots, into and out of windows in different New York high-rise buildings, are reverses of each other; the exit signs that keep showing up in shots with Emily, in the first half of the movie, as she seeks a “way out” of her unhappiness; the way Soderbergh (who’s also his own cinematographer, working under the name of Peter Andrews, his father) shoots everything in muted, almost monochromatic shades of light, suggesting the drab, depressed fog inside Emily’s head.
It hasn’t exactly been a blockbuster at the box office, suggesting that many viewers are opting to plop down their ticket money for sunnier, splashier, less complicated fare. But for anyone who might like a real pill of a movie that packs a serious one-two punch as a detective drama coupled with a cautionary tale about the dangers of trying to pharma-cate our troubles away, all spiced with a zesty pinch of dirty money, steamy desire and dastardly double-crosses thrown in for seasoning... “Side Effects” could be just what the doctor ordered!
Your Opinions and Comments
Be the first to comment on this story!
You must be logged in to post a comment.
South Texas Living Archives
Apple Pie readers help Julia fill in the blanks (September 21, 2016)
Cheap cell phone plans for seniors (September 21, 2016)
Come And Take It starts Sept. 30 (September 21, 2016)
Disc water pitcher (September 21, 2016)
DRT chapter plans meeting, new member class (September 21, 2016)
Get ready to grill at show barn’s barbecue cook-off (September 21, 2016)
Old Town Day seeks vendors (September 21, 2016)
Poth VFD to serve up barbecued chicken (September 21, 2016)
Run and shine at Neon Sizzle 5K (September 21, 2016)
Spots open for Community Yard Sale (September 21, 2016)
St. Mary’s Fall Festival Sept. 25 (September 21, 2016)
Support FUMC youth at barbecue ‘fun’ raiser (September 21, 2016)
Teen MOPS plans upcoming meetings (September 21, 2016)
The root of many evils (September 21, 2016)
Uncovering local legends: The grave in the middle of the road (September 21, 2016)
URBAN-15 seeks dancers, drummers (September 21, 2016)
Chicago Cub yearbooks (September 14, 2016)
Enjoy Country Music Show Sept. 20 (September 14, 2016)
How to prevent falls at home (September 14, 2016)
Krawietz family reunion (September 14, 2016)
La Vernia EMS plans Car Show (September 14, 2016)
Labatt Club donates to library, children (September 14, 2016)
Low voices and high hopes (September 14, 2016)
Lutheran Church plans Sausage Dinner (September 14, 2016)
Medicaid covers mosquito repellent to fight Zika (September 14, 2016)
Metting family plans reunion (September 14, 2016)
Non-prescription drugs — the forgotten solution to rising health-care costs (September 14, 2016)
Relay For Life meeting is Sept. 15 (September 14, 2016)
Seguin Cowboy Gathering is Sept. 17 (September 14, 2016)
Smith Gas celebrates 88 years in business (September 14, 2016)
The life of Doris Billimek Moczygemba (September 14, 2016)
Trail ride donations surpass $1M (September 14, 2016)
Visit Remembering Our Fallen exhibit in Seguin (September 14, 2016)
Who will take care of you? (September 14, 2016)
A life shaped by hard work and hunting (September 7, 2016)
After-Dinner Chocolates (September 7, 2016)
Cajun music Sept. 10 (September 7, 2016)
Donate hearing aids, glasses, equipment (September 7, 2016)
Earn a certification in native landscaping (September 7, 2016)
Enjoy EquestFest 2016 (September 7, 2016)
Getting Engaged? How to spend wisely (September 7, 2016)
Mystery box (September 7, 2016)
Nominate a nonprofit for Literacy Award (September 7, 2016)
Old medicine chest dates back to 1821 (September 7, 2016)
Professional bull riding returns to Fredericksburg (September 7, 2016)
Register to run for tacos Oct. 1 (September 7, 2016)
Road Runners plan September outings (September 7, 2016)
Still time to buy tickets for Wild Game Dinner (September 7, 2016)
Take a tour of SS museum Sept. 17 (September 7, 2016)
Take the H-E-B Slim Down challenge (September 7, 2016)
Vote for top flick at Manhattan Short Film Festival (September 7, 2016)
Welcome to The Greenline, a 43-acre linear park (September 7, 2016)
‘Cupping’ long before Phelps did it (September 7, 2016)