With "Side Effects," director Stephen Soderbergh takes on the doctor/patient relationship; Big Pharma; intimacy; and a host of other issues.
If I told you how it works out, you would tar and feather me as The World's Worst Spoiler.
Suffice it to say the movie gives us Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara of "Girl With a Dragon Tatoo"), who's reuniting with her husband Martin (Channing Tatum). Martin has spent four years in prison for insider trading, meaning that Emily had to fend for herself as she coped with a less than six-figure income.
When the black dog of depression come nipping at her heels, she tries to kill herself, then ends up with psychiatrist Jonathan Banks (Jude Law) and a host of meds, including an experimental one called Ablixa. It comes with --you guessed it!--serious side effects for Emily and Martin.
That's all I can tell you, other than Catherine Zeta Jones plays Emily's former psychologist, Dr. Victoria Siebert.
Here's what the critics are saying:
Anything but predictable, “Side Effects” is embedded in a world of psychiatric medicine that has become deeply familiar to the tens of millions of individuals who use commonly prescribed mood-altering drugs. Zoloft, Prozac, Wellbutrin, Effexor — they’re all mentioned by name in the film. Emily Taylor, portrayed by Ms. Mara, has waited faithfully for her husband, played by Mr. Tatum, to return from prison, where he has been locked up for insider trading. She is thrilled, but nervous, and suffers from depression. Jude Law, a Manhattan psychiatrist, treats her with Ablixa. It is a fictional drug that is closely modeled on real ones, down to the rosy television commercials and the dizzying litany of possible side effects. (Ms. Zeta-Jones is a professional peer of Mr. Law.) But things go badly. Just as on the warning labels. Michael Cieply, the New York Times
Side Effects begins with a slow pan moving in on an apartment window reminiscent of the classic opening to Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho and the comparison to the Master of Suspense couldn't be more apt. Director Steven Soderbergh and screenwriter Scott Z. Burns (Contagion) have crafted a thrilling feature that will be all the better the less you know. That being the case, don't expect too much plot exposition from me. In fact, stop reading now and just go see the movie... that's my recommendation. Brad Brevetfor Rope of Silicon.
The film broaches some interesting and topical material concerning the responsibility doctors have for their patients’ behavior, the moral grey zone of participating in pharmaceutical testing, the difference between being guilty and committing a crime, and much more. I was all ready for another Contagion, but halfway through the film, this shifts to something totally different. While Contagion followed multiple characters and kept them all at a distance in favor of making a larger statement about the way the world would react to a global outbreak, Soderbergh and Burns give us a much more personal story here, manipulating our emotions by slowly leaking bits of information as the film churns forward. Ben Pearson, Filmonic
To reveal any more would give away the knotty intricacies of the plot that don’t so much play out as twists but rather unravel themselves amongst the characters, instantaneously effecting their every decision. This could easily be written off as the “Rooney Mara goes crazy on prescription pills” movie, but it is better and more complicated than that. The problem is the way the movie shifts between what it wants to be without revealing its secrets. Is it a psychological thriller? Is it conspiracy theory suspense? Is it a courtroom drama? Is it an investigative procedural? It hints at every one of these tones and finally settles into one, and that’s when the film really works. Sean Hutchinson, Latino Review
"Side Effects" is rated R. It runs 90 minutes.