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Published on April 11th, 2013 | by Yellow Magpie

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Side Effects Film Review: A Thriller With Added Twists

Side Effects Film Review

Director: Steven Soderbergh.
Cast: Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Catherine Zeta Jones and Channing Tatum.

Emily’s depression resurfaces after her husband is freed from prison culminating in her ramming a car into the wall in an act of self-destruction. Upon meeting Dr. Jonathan Banks her life takes a turn for the worse when she is given a course of a new drug called Ablixa.

Side effects of the drug soon start to emerge as she begins to sleepwalk and do other strange things. One night she kills her husband while under Ablixa’s influence. Banks testifies on Emily’s behalf but starts to feel that something isn’t quite right.

Side Effects Film Review Emily (Rooney Mara) And Martin Taylor (Channing Tatum)

Side Effects is a film that hooks the viewer with a gripping narrative. It offers complex characters with motivations that are difficult to anticipate and intriguing plots and sub-plots that do not lend themselves to easy discernment.

‘Law goes through a gamut of emotions as he gives a compelling portrayal of a multi-faceted character.’

Jude Law delivers an excellent performance as the enigmatic Dr. Jonathan Banks. The viewer never quite knows where they stand with the psychiatric doctor. Initially, he appears to be kind and considerate. Whereas later on we get to see a side that seems to be nearly obsessed with wealth and status.

Banks starts to suffer as first he has to forfeit his prestigious position as partner of a psychiatric consultancy firm and then loses his wife and family.  Law goes through a gamut of emotions as he gives a compelling portrayal of a multi-faceted character.

Side Effects Film Review Emily (Rooney Mara) And Martin Taylor (Channing Tatum) In Therapy

Rooney Mara presents the stand-out performance of the film as the puzzling Emily Taylor. Essentially, she is giving a performance of a performance which seldom appears believable. Usually actors will try to draw too much attention to the subtext and the underlying processes driving their character.

Mara displays no such insecurities and breathes life into Emily Taylor by giving a subtle execution of a demanding role.

‘Her Dr. Victoria Siebert is a character infused with subterfuge and deceit.’

Channing Tatum is less effective but competent as Martin, the husband of Emily Taylor. A white collar criminal caught for insider trading, Martin doesn’t seem to really regret his actions. Not quite possessing the same talents as the other leading actors, Tatum’s Martin just simply lacks impact. Although it could be conceded that this may be as much down to the writing and direction than Tatum’s abilities.

Catherine Zeta Jones lights up the screen providing a real focal point and demanding our attention. Her Dr. Victoria Siebert is a character infused with subterfuge and deceit.

Like Tatum, Vinessa Shaw’s Deirdre, wife to Martin Banks, is overshadowed by the other cast despite the fact that she gives us a convincing character.

Side Effects Film Review Emily Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law) And Dr. Victoria Siebert (Catherine Zeta Jones)

Side Effects is a film that simply flows. Everything is self-contained and there doesn’t seem to be any extraneous scenes. Yet little is lost in this efficient approach and we get a full sense of what it would be like to have these events occur.

‘The sleight of hand that the film performs and the misdirection that it imposes upon the viewer is very well produced.’

The characters, for the most part, are well-developed. The world that Side Effects creates is one that seems highly credible. The sleight of hand that the film performs and the misdirection that it imposes upon the viewer is very well produced. The writing and storyline are sufficiently strong enough that the film would still work even without the sidestep.

If Side Effects has one flaw it is that at times it sacrifices the fidelity of its own world in favour of keeping the viewer out of the loop. In retrospect one or two scenes just do not make sense. However, this is but a minor slight in an otherwise engaging film that will you dazzle you with its twists and puzzles.

Recommended Reading/Viewing

You can obtain Side Effects here from Amazon.

Amazon.co.uk
For people living in Ireland or the United Kingdom, you can access: Side Effects from here.

Amazon.ca
For Canada: Side Effects.


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