Side Effects (2013)
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Pill-sized review time! “Side Effects,” Steven Soderbergh’s newest medical thriller, starts off like the tortoise racing the hare. But it finishes the same way, out in front. It might take a few minutes, but eventually you get hooked on this bitter pill.
Martin Taylor (Channing Tatum) is finally out of jail, much to the delight of his wife Emily (Rooney Mara). But Emily’s depression kicks back in soon after. After visiting psychiatrist Jonathan Banks (Jude Law), Emily is put on an experimental new drug that’s being used in a study Banks is part of. Soon, the pill gives Emily some unintended side effects that only seem to be getting worse. With the help of Emily’s former psychiatrist Victoria Siebert (Catherine Zeta-Jones), Banks tries to find the cause of Emily’s pill problems. But this is far more complicated than that. If you can guess every plot twist that follows, this isn’t your first time seeing “Side Effects.”
Rooney Mara can speak volumes with her mesmerizing whispers. Her twisted performance harkens back to her Oscar-nominated role in “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” Dark, but beautiful. Jude Law is every bit the excitable doctor type his role required. The supporting cast gets the job done, but it’s not the acting that sets “Side Effects” apart. It’s the snaky story that slowly unravels.
From the very beginning, the eventual mystery is staged. You think you know what’s going on, but until the credits role you can never be certain. Revealing any of the plethora of plot twists would be blasphemy. For fans of an intelligent, well-acted mystery, “Side Effects” is my prescription for you.
This isn’t your average February schlock. This was something worth seeing. And the good news? The only side effect is genuine surprise.