Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Side Effects - Movie Review

Over the last year and a half, Steven Soderbergh has released three very distinct movies (Haywire, Magic Mike, and Contagion), all of which received a fair amount of both criticism and acclaim. With Side Effects, the director goes boldly in to the world of the pharmaceutical industry and creates a thriller with so many twists and turns, you may feel like you need a prescription yourself to figure it all out.

Martin and Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara and Channing Tatum) are a young couple dealing with their lives crashing down around them as the success driven husband is arrested and sent to jail for insider trading. During Martin's time away, Emily has adjusted to a life not filled with the best things a nearly unlimited supply of money has to offer, but she has waited patiently for the day of her husband's release.

Once reunited, the couple realizes their new life will be much harder and getting back to their previously prominent stature will be no small task. Emily soon falls back in to a depression that plagued her younger years and turns to Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law) and his arsenal of prescription cure-all's for help. What begins as a series of therapy sessions and drug trials quickly turns in to a downward spiral that ends up changing the lives of everyone involved.

The first thing that hit me about this story is how it turned out to be something completely different than I thought it was going to be. I figured there would be some unexpected twists and turns, but wow were the twists extra twisty and the turns left everyone's heads spinning. There are definitely times when this type of story gets so convoluted it just falls off the rails and becomes such a mess that, when the conclusion finally rolls around, the audience is just too lost to even care any more.

Side Effects is not one of those movies and Soderbergh makes sure of that as he expertly holds everything together and steers the audience through it all with ease. There was a point about half way through where I felt like things were slowing down and heading to an unfortunate and messy conclusion, but right as I had that thought, a left turn is taken and, before I knew it, I was on the edge of my seat all the way to the end.

To top things off, the audience is treated to yet another outstanding performance from Rooney Mara as well as a very entertaining effort by Jude Law. I was wondering what Mara might do after her absolutely brilliant take on the Lisbeth Salander character in the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo remake and she did not disappoint one bit. Her mere presence in this movie is a more than welcome side effect that you will have no problem experiencing as you watch a movie that keeps you guessing from beginning to end.

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