Reviews for films like Side Effects really should not be written and certainly should not be read…with that being written onwards I go with a review that hopefully won’t spoil things for the viewer.
Filled with twists and turns, Steven Soderbergh’s (Traffic, Magic Mike) Side Effects attempts to have a go at the dodgy pharmaceutical industry told in a Alfred Hitchcockish/psychological thriller type way. It seems like today that every second person is taking some sort of medication for depression. All this prescribing and consumption of anti-depressants has become rather big business. Both doctors and pharmaceutical companies are involved in the peddling of the magic pill that claims to make the fog of depression go away.
A young, rich and handsome couple, Emily (Rooney Mara – The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Social Network) and Martin Taylor (Channing Tate – 21 Jump Street, The Vow), only have down to go. That happens when Martin is found guilty and sent to jail for four year for insider trading. It is only upon his release that Emily begins unraveling mentally. She becomes increasingly depressed to the point where suicide is attempted.
Her psychiatrist, Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law – Closer, Sherlock Holmes), tries to get it under control trying several medications. Nothing seems to work until he prescribes her Ablixa, a new anti-depressant that he has been “hired” to peddle by the pharmaceutical company that produces it. He is also advised to do so by a former colleague, Dr. Victoria Siebert (Catherine Zeta- Jones – Chicago, The Terminal).
Emily and Martin are thrilled with the change in her and the only side effect seems to be sleepwalking. The side effect becomes a severe problem when in a state of unconsciousness Emily commits a horrible crime. The crime brings rise to numerous questions – Is Emily responsible for her actions? Can Dr. Banks be held criminally responsible? Not only Emily’s life is affected as Dr. Banks’ life is turned upside down to the point that his marriage to Dierdre (Vinessa Shaw – Eyes Wide Shut, Hocus Pocus) is in trouble.
Sadly this is potentially Steven Soderbergh’s last film. He has stated that he no longer will be directing films so he has ended an Oscar winning career with Side Effects. Though it certainly isn’t his best film it is an entertaining one. Actually, it is more like two films in that it starts off with one that is a cautionary tale about pharmaceuticals, anti-depressants and our reliance on doctors. Then it veers off into one that is a total ode to Hitchcock with all its intrigue and twists. The first half is very satisfying and made me want him to continue along that vein so I was a little thrown when the entire tone and direction changed, but it wasn’t horrible. Though I have to say that the divide between the two halves did not allow for it to come together as a whole.
Nothing is as it seems in this film that should be on most people’s watch list. And that is where I am going to leave things off before I divulge too much.
-Behind the Scenes
-Ablixa Website Experience