Written by Jake Cannon.
Things are going very well for Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara). Well, better than they were four years ago when her husband, Martin, played by Channing Tatum, was arrested for insider trading on the day of their wedding. Until one day she sits in her car and a terrible thought runs through her head. She follows that thought through by driving her car into a solid concrete wall.
What’s going on? Why did Emily, who seemingly is delighted to try and piece her life back together with her husband, try to commit suicide? Enter Jonathan Banks (Jude Law), a psychiatrist assigned by the state to Emily’s case. He starts to prescribe her to different anti-depressant medications including an experimental drug called Ablixia that just came on the market. Emily begins to regain her life back. She’s smiling, laughing and even enjoying sex with her husband. But sometimes she has sleepwalking episodes.
One day though, Martin is found dead in their apartment with a knife in his back. Emily’s fingerprints are on the knife and her husband’s blood stains the bottom of her feet.
Suddenly, Banks is thrust into a trial that could damage his entire career. It’s obvious that Emily killed her husband but who’s to blame? His diagnosis? Ablixia? Or is there something more going on here?
To start, Side Effects brings up some much-needed questions about the drug industry. As Emily tells her husband, “there are always side effects.” You don’t really know the impact of them until they actually happen. But the first half of the film differs greatly from the second half in a few ways. One of them being a switch from a message about drugs to a good old fashioned detective story about what really happened.
The cast is extremely superb. I had never seen Rooney Mara in anything other than The Social Network but in Side Effects she was incredibly compelling as a leading lady in the first half of the film. During the second half, Jude Law channeled his inner Dr. Watson and commanded the screen for the final half of the film. Even the minor characters that Channing Tatum and Catherine Zeta-Jones played were phenomenal.
Steven Soderbergh, who directed the Ocean’s trilogy, Contagion and Magic Mike delivers an incredibly smooth film. Soderbergh’s directing and editing style makes him one of the most unique and possibly one of the best directors out there. Jim Micilia in a post on filmreference.com said “he [Soderbergh] tells stories in concise and polished ways, reminiscent of classic Hollywood models, yet with fresh, unusual structures and surprising turns from scene to scene; and his cinematography is usually superb, notably in framing and lighting, though always adaptive to the overall subject and mood.”
Side Effects is no different. The story takes you on the twists and turns of a modern day detective story all while keeping you guessing about what the fate will be of the characters involved. It’s an extremely compelling and gripping story; one I would highly recommend for Soderbergh and detective story fans.
I give Side Effects 4 anti-depressant pills out of 4.