REVIEW: SIDE EFFECTS
SYNOPSIS: SIDE EFFECTS is a provocative thriller about Emily and Martin (Rooney Mara and Channing Tatum), a successful New York couple whose world unravels when a new drug prescribed by Emily's psychiatrist (Jude Law) – intended to treat anxiety – has unexpected side effects.
REVIEW: Director Steven Soderbergh (Magic Mike, 2012) and screenwriter Scott Z. Burns (Contagion, 2011) have crafted this provocative thriller, taking on the subject of questioning the doctor/patient relationship, the ethics that comes with it all and the efficacy of prescription medication. The ultra-talented pair delivers Side Effects, as a quasi-factual, thought provoking psychological thriller, focusing on a new anti-anxiety drug that, like in many of today’s pharmaceutical claims, is the perfect wonder drug until one acknowledges the side effects (no pun intended). Interestingly enough, the film really proposes some relevant material concerning the responsibility that doctors have for their patients’ behavior, the moral grey zone that comes out of their participating in pharmaceutical testing, and the difference between being guilty and committing a crime. This columniation sets the tone for the movie and wastes no time in drawing audiences in to witnessing bewildering patterns of behavior that makes the movie extremely unpredictable and sobering at the same time. I specifically liked how Soderbergh and Burns give us a much more personal story here, manipulating the audience’s emotions by slowly leaking bits and pieces of information as the film evolves.
Channing Tatum, who previously paired with Soderbergh on the quasi-biographic Magic Mike and the black ops thriller Haywire, does a spectacular job with his character. The married, successful entrepreneur role seems to be a bit a departure from his former roles, but somehow he’s able to show the versatility in his craft. On the other hand, it is not very much of a departure for Jude Law to play a psychiatrist character with relative ease. He does appear to be more at home with the role in very convincing way.
I really liked the choice of Rooney Mara (Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, 2012) for the, pill-popping housewife character that is depressed to an incapacitating degree. She, like no one else can, brings a remarkable element to the serious tone of the subject matter. She was every bit of what would be expected of such a character. Likewise, Catherine Zeta-Jones rounds out the sex appeal stacked cast as a potential drug company insider, with real panache and deviousness.
All that said Side Effects ultimately illustrate the greed of immoral men and women involved with the drug industry. It’s, in the end, a delightfully peculiar crime-fiction for which the realistically portrayed drugs are window-dressing for the underlying problem we face with a corrupt industry. Ultimately, the flick seems to be more about thugs than drugs with a medical thriller twist. Creating a world that was so medically real, could only be this believable, by casting such talent. This flick definitely deserves four out of five stars for great character-based writing and subject matter.
By Movi-Man Stan
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