Side Effects (2013)
Starring: Rooney Mara, Channing Tatum, Jude Law, Catherine Zeta-Jones
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Tagline: This is your insanity on drugs.
Running time: 106 Minutes
Quick summary (from IMDB): A young woman’s world unravels when a drug prescribed by her psychiatrist has unexpected side effects.
Side Effects has been sitting in my Netflix Instant Queue for several months now. I initially added it because I sometimes like Steven Soderbergh and the cast looked pretty strong. But every time I came across it running through my queue, I skipped over it. It just always seemed like it was a little too heavy for my mood at the time, so I’d watch something else instead. And when my wife and I were looking for something to watch together, she never really gave it any consideration, even after I told her that it starred Channing Tatum and Rooney Mara. It wasn’t until she was looking for suggestions for movies to watch on IMDB, and stumbled across it after reading about You’re Next. I don’t really see how the two are connected; they aren’t really similar in style, tone or genre and don’t share any actors and were written and directed by different people. You’re Next was a pretty brutal horror movie while Side Effects was more of a psychological thriller. I guess both were twisty in nature, but other than that there was nothing that would have led me to Side Effects from You’re Next.
The story was interesting and the performances were solid and any movie that features homicidal somnambulism (spoiler alert?) is okay in my book, but I felt that Side Effects was a little bit too overcomplicated. As the plot was unfolding and things were getting deeper and deeper, I found myself wondering what the point of it all was. It seemed bizarre that someone would be focusing so intently on Jude Law’s character and go through such lengths to get him involved and it didn’t really make much sense. It eventually starts to make sense as the twists are unraveled, but it took so many different things to happen to get to the ending that it was a little convoluted.
About halfway through the movie, my wife pointed out that the title, Side Effects, had multiple meanings. I felt so dumb for not recognizing it, but in addition to the medical side effects of the drug Law’s character prescribed to Mara, there were also side effects that affected every other aspect of their lives. I really should have picked up on that sooner or at least been able to figure it out. Had she not said anything, I’d have probably never put it together.
The movie was intriguing and there were definitely several interesting twists and reveals as the movie went along, but I probably could have done with a fewer, or at least a little more rationale behind the characters actions, like something tying Law more directly to Mara than a random doctor assigned to her in the emergency room. It was all too random and open to chance for such an elaborate and intricate plan. But then Soderbergh does have some prior experience with elaborate and intricate plans (see Ocean’s 11 through 13).
3 out of 5 stars