Anthology of Interest: Side Effects
Monday, February 11th, 2013
By Mike Girard
Side Effects of Ablixa may include: nausea and vomiting, dry mouth, diarrhea, mood swings, dizziness, headache, and drowsiness. And murder.
This movie took a long time to get going – it’s billed as a psychological thriller, and it acts that way for the first 40 minutes. After that, though, it’s more of a crime thriller – instead of a close examination of a young woman’s depression, we see the tangled web of lies and deceit she wove in order to pull off one of the most complicated instances of insider trading ever.
At first, we follow Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara), a depressed and beautiful young woman whose husband, Martin (Channing Tatum), is finishing a four-year sentence in prison for committing insider trading, a complex white-collar crime that seems to be rampant in New York City. Emily struggles through suicide attempts and severe depression until her new psychiatrist, Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law), prescribes her Ablixa, an experimental new drug. Things seem to be going fine for Emily until the drug causes her to sleep-walk-stab Martin to death with a kitchen knife. It was at this point in the film that I realized how deceptive and complex Rooney Mara can be – it was also this point in the film that Channing Tatum lost all of his action-movie street cred. He can’t fight off a 90-pound girl who stabs things in her sleep?
The rest of the film follows Dr. Banks as he deals with the ensuing credibility crisis in wrongfully prescribing a dangerous drug. It’s at this point that the film turns from a psychological focus to crime/detective narrative.
I genuinely didn’t know how the movie was going to end until the last 30 minutes – that’s always a good thing in a film billed as a thriller. Director Steven Soderbergh definitely knows how to clearly present a complex and detailed situation with enough suspense to keep an audience interested. There isn’t, however, a whole lot of depth in this film. I think character-driven works are almost always more entertaining, and that aspect felt lacking in Side Effects.
I saw this film with Maria for $17 total. It was worth the money, so if you’ve already seen Les Miserables, this is also a good way to spend a Friday night.