‘Side Effects’ Leaves Unexpected Residual Effects

It’s been a slow first month for 2013 in the movie industry. With people still focusing on awards ceremonies for the past year, few are actually paying attention to most recent releases. However, one movie that should be on everyone’s radar is “Side Effects.”

Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara) stars as a woman desperately trying to make ends meet after recently being torn away from her lavish, waspy life in Greenwich when her husband, Martin Taylor (Channing Tatum), is caught for insider trading and sentenced to a four-year term in jail.

Even after her husband is released from prison, it is fairly obvious that Emily is suffering from severe depression, which causes her to intentionally drives her car into a brick wall. Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law) spots her action as a potential suicide, but she convinces him that it was only a momentary lapse of judgment. Instead of admitting her, Banks makes a deal with her, allowing her to maintain her lifestyle and not stay in the hospital as long as she meets with Banks for therapy sessions.

To curb her depression, Banks prescribes various antidepressants. When the side effects of these drugs begin to interfere with Emily’s life, Banks introduces more drugs to counteract these side effects without carefully examining the possibly residual problems they could cause.

The twists and turns this movie pulls on the viewer add to the incredible suspense. The story’s unexpected and twisted ending will baffle and surprise even the most conditioned thriller enthusiast.

The direction of “Side Effects” is, simply put, brilliant. The sequence of events and the action scenes reminiscent of the “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” complement the psycho-sexual thriller aspects of this film. The camera work for this movie is also very well done and exhibits very professional operations and handling of scenes.

Director Steven Soderbergh holds a fine-tuned command of the audience. Midway through the movie, a ground-shifting twist will leave the viewer grasping for some clue or hint. Somehow, Soderbergh manages to leave the viewers in the dark until almost the last minute, when they are subject to the mind-boggling resolution.

Adding to the movie’s exemplary qualities, the ensemble puts on an incredible performance. Mara effortlessly pulls off the duality that her character develops. Zeta-Jones’ mysterious sexually sly character is perfectly suited for this film, and she manages to  craft a character with incredible depth while carefully letting on to the audience the eeriness of the story that is about to unfurl. Even Law’s performance was excellent. It’s nice to see Law depart from his usual romantic comedy stunts and actually take on a character that doesn’t use a British accent as the primary source of appeal. There was also just enough of Tatum’s character to not give too much away, and his absence from certain parts of the movie is very much welcomed and even appreciated.

“Side Effects” is definitely a movie that should be considered by everyone, even if thrillers aren’t one’s genre of choice. That said, there are some considerably adult themes in this movie, so younger viewers should be cautioned before entering the theater. This movie is incredible, but its use of psychological and sexual play will surprise and possibly disturb even the most seasoned viewers.