Review: Side Effects

THE SETUP: Wouldn’t it suck if your whole life was shattered when your husband is sent to prison? There’s therapy for that. Wouldn’t it suck more if you lose everything while waiting four years for him to get out of prison? There’s a drug for that. Wouldn’t it suck the most if you then kill the guy due to the effects of therapy and drugs? Or is that what’s really going on? Lots of questions.

THE THOUGHTS:  From the director that started his professional career with a tale about Sex, Lies and Videotape, it seems only fitting that his possibly last film will be a bit more of the same (heavier on the sex and lies, not much on the video). Steven Soderbergh tries his hand at Hitchcock aka a story of twists and turns, people not what they pretend to be, and a focus on dialogue rather than action. Does it get as good as the master of suspense? Nope. But it’s still a pretty entertaining show.

THE YAYS: Jude Law is a great as a psychiatrist becoming obsessed at the thought of being mislead, almost to the point of ruin. You can almost feel his desperation and confusion at what he thought he was involved in and the truth as it slowly is revealed to him and us. Catherine Zeta-Jones and Channing Tatum play more supporting characters (contrary to what the trailer might say) but their great as a rival psychiatrist and the convicted love interest respectively. If it’s anyone’s show, it’s Rooney Mara. The biggest movie she’d done previously was the American remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (you’ll have to read but see the original) and she really owns this role.

The storyline is intelligent and feeds you just enough of the mystery to keep you guessing but wanting to stick around for how it’s going to end. It doesn’t talk down to the audience like a lot of movies do, feeling the need to spell things out. This is a modern psychological thriller, in the good way.

THE NAYS: The complaints probably come around Jude Law’s character. As really the lead of the movie (and it takes a bit for that to become clear), you don’t really feel a need to cheer for him. There are attempts at showing the disruption to his home life due to the film’s events but you don’t feel it. He’s just not an overly sympathetic character when that’s what they want him to be.


4 stars – you’d recommend this. A well executed and well acted, especially by Mara, movie that makes you think it’s headed one way and leads you in quite another. Haven’t enjoyed a movie that’s twisty/turny like this in a while.

Random Recommendations

Requiem for a Dream (2000) – Drugs are bad. You’ll certainly feel that way after watching this movie about the impact drug addiction can have on you and your relationships. What you’ll give up and what you’ll do to score. It’s really hard to watch sometimes but that doesn’t mean it’s not effective. A great film from director Darren (Black Swan, The Wrestler) Aranofsky. If you’re looking to feel good, not your movie.

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