Monday, August 5, 2013

Side Effects (2013)

A young woman's world unravels when a drug prescribed by her psychiatrist has unexpected side effects.
Directed by:  Steven Soderbergh (Erin Brockovich, Contagion)
Written by:  Scott Z. Burns (The Bourne Ultimatum, Contagion)
Music by:  Thomas Newman
Running Time:  106 mins
Starring: Jude Law (Dr. Banks), Rooney Mara (Emily), Catherine Zeta-Jones (Dr. Siebert), Channing Tatum (Martin)

"One Pill Can Change Your Life"

Previously titled The Bitter Pill & reported (at the time) to be Steven Soderbergh's final film as a director,  is Side Effects the right film to be his swan song? Well, as it turned out this is not his last hurrah, and thank god for that because I still would love to see him for a long time. 

Labeled as a psychological thriller, viewers may bring their popcorn expecting an edge-of-your-seat movie oversaturated with your typical thrill rides & scare tactics, but this is not that kind. More of a thriller of the mind rather than of the senses, they say it's a movie of the Hitchcock mold and while the camera movements, characterization, and such, are reminiscent of the master's works, I wouldn't dare box Soderbergh with that because he has his unique style and he owns it. 

Okay, I admit that the plot doesn't feel as airtight as it should be, but I'm not even sure if the fault is mine or the movie's. There are some scenes/situations which doesn't seem too believable but it gets overshadowed by the film's stronger points - that is the music (by Thomas Newman), the atmosphere, and the cast. And when I say cast,  I mean Jude Law & Rooney Mara. Catherine Zeta-Jones did well enough as Dr. Siebert, and I was slightly affected with the climax, but since she's only 1/4 of the film she's not really the main attraction here. Channing Tatum (I'm really not fond of this guy) is his usual generic self, he didn't do anything wrong, but I would have been happier if another guy was cast haha. 

After seeing Rooney Mara in this movie, I have to say that I need to see more of her. She's great in this film for me, with her effective portrayal of a seemingly depressed young woman, whose life was ruined by a new breed of beta-blocker. She reels us in, making us feel her with her expressive eyes alone, fortunately this time with eyebrows lol. Some may say that Mara has under-acted, but to me, it's more controlled as the character required. 

And then we have Jude Law. My dear Watson, Holmes would be so proud of you the way you handled things. It's safe to say that Law owned this movie. 

While Side Effects may not be a great movie, still, it's one of the better psychological thrillers I've seen recently. It's complex enough, it's deceptive, though some may argue that its weakness is that it's trying too hard to be a smart film that it forgot to be realistic. But needless to say, it entertained me because of Law & Mara, and I have thoroughly enjoyed the story especially seeing the evils of the pharmaceutical companies and their products - which is one of the most realistic aspect of the film. I also enjoyed the other evils shown here but I don't want to spoil the movie.

Side Effects is a strong enough pill that will cure you of symptoms brought upon by an overdose of superhero movies, rehashed horror flicks, vampire/werewolf crap, & an epidemic of reboots and remakes -- the effect is lasting, at least until it's time for your next dose.

My Rating: 4/5 

SPOILERS (highlight to reveal):
Seeing Channing Tatum die half-way through the film reminded me of Psycho but unlike the latter, in this case it made me happy. :) I don't know why he is such an It Boy right now, maybe i'm just getting older and surly. 

The first act depicted the pharmaceutical companies as the antagonist and I so readily agreed. But as the story progresses, it also shows how easily someone can smear a reputation be it the drug's or the medical practitioner's, and how we quickly embrace everything as facts.

My only qualms about this story is how easily Emily killed Martin. Yes she mentioned that it's not a quick decision, that she has thought about it over and over,  but for her to plunge that knife more than once and for what? Kill your husband who may have made mistakes, but obviously loves you, for money? It's just a bit hard to grasp, her drive/motivation. It would be easier to accept if she killed him with a gun, and not stab him repeatedly and let him bleed to death. It's not like he's a bad guy who beats her or cheats on her. I know the stabbing is more for the plot. Still. 

Do you think the characters deserved what they got in the end?

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