Release: Friday, February 8, 2013
This is not the movie the trailer was advertising. Or is it? I think these little blue pills are starting to have their effect on me finally. But in this case, that’s a really good thing. What an intense film!!!
Steven Soderbergh’s “final” big-screen release is delivered with style, intensity and an often off-kilter, ADHD-esque viewpoint on the subject of prescription meds and the role they play in changing their user — for the better and for the worse. Soderbergh’s story brilliantly blends both positives and negatives of anti-depressants here in Side Effects, giving us one of the more memorable and provocative stories thus far in 2013.
Centering around the beautiful but troubled Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara), Side Effects takes us on a journey ranging anywhere from the psychological challenges posed by depression, to the cold-cash and colder-hearted nature of the business of medicine, to the legal aspects of prescribing drug trials. Having said that, this film is just as much about Emily as it is about Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law), who is the doctor Emily is seeing. After Emily’s husband Martin (Channing Tatum) is released from prison having served a sentence for participating in some insider trading, she finds herself again unable to cope with the emotional rollercoaster that is her life.
Naturally, a highly likable doc (in my eyes, Jude Law can really do no wrong) steps in to help Emily through the difficult time and prescribes her a variety of anti-depressants, each with their own unwanted side effects taking their toll on Emily. This eventually culminates in Martin’s wanting to have his wife off meds completely, as he sees all of these effects taking a strong hold on her, and worse — their relationship.
Dr. Banks has another idea, though. He chooses to prescribe a fairly new trial drug called Ablixa to Emily since all else has failed up until now. Now, without giving too much away, here’s where things start to get a little fuzzy. Cue one of Dr. Banks’ partners, Dr. Siebert (Catherine Zeta-Jones), who used to treat Emily. With her presence, we get a new angle on the story of Emily Taylor; that is to say, we start to get an idea of just how bad that girl’s situation is.
A side effect of reviewing in depth a film this complex is providing spoilers, some minor and some major, so now I am going to hush and let you all enjoy the film. But I won’t pass up an opportunity to say just how thoroughly gripping this picture becomes. From the outset the dialogue and context of each character is so well written that even those annoying people getting up to go pee-pee mid-movie won’t distract. But for God’s sake, please….remember that it’s okay to blink once in a while. My eyes were extremely dry when it finished!
Recommendation: I think I was a good candidate to see this film since I can identify with struggling through bouts of depression and up-and-down emotions. In that way, this movie may have spoken to me louder than it may to others, but I still believe Soderbergh’s latest invention is one of his strongest. And I truly doubt this will be his final one.
Running Time: 106 mins.
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