Director Steven Soderbergh has said that Side Effects will be the last movie he directs. I didn’t care, as I’ve always been hit-and-miss with him, and hated his last two movies (Haywire and Contagion). I thought about Contagion during this (both movies written by Scott Z. Burns), because one of the things I disliked was the score. In this movie, Thomas Newman provides a wonderful score. And Soderbergh gave us a good movie!
We’re first introduced to Jude Law’s psychiatrist in a way that shows him to be a kind and caring doctor. Not in some over the top corny way, but realistically. He’s got a lot of patients, and he’s doing the best he can with each. It also appears there could be a few small problems at home with his wife and step son.
Rooney Mara (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) picks up her husband after a four year stint in jail for insider trading. You think she’d be a little happier. After all, iit’s Channing Tatum. Anyway, after some unpassionate lovemaking, a suicide attempt, and a breakdown…she’s put on meds. The pills seem to help with most of her problems, but now she’s sleepwalking. Now, having seen the movie Sleepwalk With Me last year, I know how dangerous that can be. And apparently so does Mara, as her previous psychiatrist (Catherine Zeta-Jones) had documented some cases of her doing that.
Now, this is about all I will tell you regarding the plot. Even the trailers, and the stars of the movie on talk shows, have given away too much. I went in knowing nothing about it when I saw it last month. And I loved the way it went from a bit of an ethical dilemma to a psychological thriller. It was Hitchcock-light. More like Brian De Palma.
The movie seemed to be shot in some yellowish/orange filters, and was a bit off in the camera angels. It’s almost as if we were on some strong meds or something.
A few days after the movie, I was talking with a friend who was misdiagnosed by a doctor and put on pills. She had weird side effects and suggested a smaller dose. The doctor didn’t lower it, and when she went to another doctor for a second opinion, it turned out the first doctor completely misdiagnosed her problem. She was taken off the meds and the problem was soon straightened out with a different pill that had no side effects. It gave me an even greater appreciation for the film.
When Catherine Zeta-Jones shows up (the least attractive she’s ever looked), we wonder about some of her motivations. You soon realize that doctors are all just trying to cover their own butts. Nobody wants a big lawsuit or to hurt their practice in anyway, so they’re reluctant at times to share certain information.
During the first part of the movie, I thought we were going to be led down this depressing series of events that Mara goes through, but things really pick up in the middle part of the film. The 3rd act disappoints a bit, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be disappointed by the movie. You’ll enjoy the ride it takes you on.
This gets 3 ½ stars out of 5.