Sunday 3 March 2013

Film Review: Side Effects

Rooney Mara in Side Effects

Jude Law, Rooney Mara and Catherine Zeta-Jones star in Side Effects, an intelligent and haunting thriller from director Steven Soderbergh.

Emily (Rooney Mara) had it all. A husband, a great job and a life to be proud of. When the rug is ripped from underneath her and her husband Martin (Channing Tatum) is sent to prison, her downward spiral with numerous prescription drugs begins. With a cloud of depression hanging over her, Emily turns to psychiatrist Jonathan Banks (Jude Law) for help. And this is where it gets interesting...

For obvious reasons, continuing on with a synopsis of Side Effects would greatly ruin the shock and surprise of the film's numerous twists and turns, each one more sinister and surprising than the last. This film draws you in and gets you hooked, feeding you just enough information to keep you tantalised from start to finish.

First of all, the script and pacing is spot on. The film swings between drawn out periods of tension followed by rapid, sporadic bursts of drama that cause the plot to veer this way and the next. The acting here is also top-notch. For me, the real stand-out performance came from Jude Law's character Dr. Jonathan Banks. Whilst I've seen plenty of Law in other films, his performance here really made me sit up and take notice.

The same praise can be afforded the film's other lead Rooney Mara, gloomy and tortured to begin with but something very different and unexpected come the end. Likewise, Catherine Zeta-Jones' sultry performance as Dr. Siebert starts in one place but ends in another, her firm gaze and stilettos injecting a dose sexiness and tenacity into the mixture throughout.

The end verdict is that Side Effects is a surprisingly effective and complex psychological thriller that messes with your head as much as any pill could. An early contender for My Top 5 Films of 2013, it's wonderfully smart, stylishly shot as well as dark, brilliantly acted and thought-provoking. Just as Soderbergh did with Contagion, Side Effects makes you stop and think about our frenzied pill-popping culture. If there's one thing you'll take from Side Effects it is this; always read the label.

I give Side Effects: 8/10

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