North Texas Daily

Review: “Side Effects” full of mystery and intrigue

Review: “Side Effects” full of mystery and intrigue

February 08
10:12 2013

Preston Barta
Staff Writer


Side Effects, 106 min.
Rated R for sexuality, nudity, violence and language.
Written by Scott Z. Burns
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Starring: Rooney Mara, Jude Law, Channing Tatum and Catherine Zeta-Jones

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

“Side Effects” is a feature that will likely divide the film going community. It comes with some “side effects” that may cause your head to split and could leave you upset or angry. However, if you are one of those that get caught in the web of mystery films, you may find this to be a brilliant anomaly of filmmaking.

The story follows Emily (Mara) whose husband, Martin (Tatum), has just returned home from prison for insider trading. They are a successful couple living in New York, until a new drug called Ablixa, intended to treat depression and anxiety, is prescribed by Emily’s psychiatrist (Law) and has unexpected side effects.

“Side Effects” is one of the most well crafted psychological thrillers to come by in quite some time. Like “Shutter Island” (2010), it’s a classic detective story that sends us down a road with many twists and turns, leaving its audience dizzy by the time the credits roll. However, unlike the near-perfect “Shutter Island,” “Side Effects” loses momentum in its third act when all the secrets are revealed. The story immerses its audience with its intrigue, but it wraps itself up in such a neat fashion that you can practically see the bow.

Despite the light handed flaws that cannot be explained without going into spoiler territory, this is a film that is packed to the brim with exceptional performances from all, dazzling cinematography, clever editing and staggering directing from Academy Award-winning filmmaker Soderbergh.

Soderbergh, who has directed a mixed bag of candy over the years, including “Magic Mike” (2012), “Haywire” (2012) and “Contagion” (2011), announced that “Side Effects” would be his final film, as he plans to embark on a journey into the world of television and art. This is sad news for film lovers because even though Soderbergh hasn’t consistently delivered the best films, he is an immensely talented director, especially when you consider some of his earlier work like “Traffic” (2000), “Ocean’s Eleven” (2001) and “Erin Brockovich” (2000).

Last seen in David Fincher’s English version of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (2011), Mara is a revelation and brings the ambiguity that the film needs. Mara, Jessica Chastain (“Zero Dark Thirty”, 2012) and Jennifer Lawrence (“Silver Linings Playbook”, 2012) are the top three most talented young actresses working in Hollywood today. Even when their films are not noteworthy, what they bring to their characters is unforgettable.

Tatum, who recently stripped off all his clothes for the ladies in “Magic Mike”, gives an adequate performance as Emily’s loving husband. Law is engaging and arresting as a psychiatrist battling his own problems at home. Zeta-Jones, who hasn’t appeared in movies as often as she should, gives an icy performance as Emily’s previous psychiatrist.

Overall, “Side Effects” is a film that audiences should definitely make some time to see. It will play with your head and those are the best type of movies to see.

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