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From Academy Award-winning director Steven Soderbergh (Traffic) comes this suspenseful and provocative tale of intrigue starring Channing Tatum, Academy Award nominees Rooney Mara and Jude Law, and Academy Award winner Catherine Zeta-Jones. After her husband (Tatum) is released from prison, Emily (Mara) begins suffering from terrifying anxiety and turns to psychiatrist Dr. Banks (Law) for help. But when Banks prescribes an experimental drug for her, the side effects have chilling and deadly consequences. Full of unexpected twists, Side Effects is the sexy psychological thriller that critics are calling “wildly unpredictable!” (Marlow Stern, Newsweek)
Few filmmakers have spent more time in the zone than Steven Soderbergh. Since making his debut with 1989's Sex, Lies, and Videotape, the director has shown a distinct aversion to being pinned down, cruising between various genres--caper movies, stark dramas, broad comedies, whatever the heck Schizopolis was--and styles with a fairly absurd rate of success. Side Effects, Soderbergh's last theatrical feature before his announced retirement, finds him in smooth jazz mode, setting up the Hitchcockian premise with chilly wit and a deceptively throttled-back ease… which makes the moments when things go haywire all the more satisfying. The script by frequent Soderbergh collaborator Scott Z. Burns (Contagion) follows a well-to-do housewife (Rooney Mara) suffering from panic attacks after her husband (Channing Tatum) gets busted for insider trading. When a particularly severe incident leaves her teetering, her doctor (Jude Law) recommends her for an experimental drug trial. Things do not go as the label indicates. Like many thrillers, this is probably best experienced cold, with the various twists and turns of the plot designed to especially wallop the unprepared. Even after you've figured out whodunnit, however, the film's construction still offers rewards on repeat viewing, thanks to some amusing, perceptive takes on today's medicated culture (the characters trade prescription histories like business cards), and the tremendous central performances by Law and Mara. Ultimately, though, the success of Side Effects belongs to its director, who here presents an advance class for aspiring filmmakers in how to elevate your material. Working as his own (pseudonymous) editor and cinematographer, Soderbergh appears to be having an absolute ball, setting up the misdirections and left-field shocks with humor, flair, and the atomic clock timing that can only come from long practice. If he truly is calling it quits, he's picked a swell one to go out on. --Andrew Wright
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As "Side effects" moves along, the plot goes a bit haywire. I still think it's a movie that is well worthwhile, but it feels more like Soderbergh's political statement on the pharmaceutical industry and Wall Street/insider trading, which is fine by me, but the audience side of the equation could have been better judged. The basic idea itself is not so absurd, but is certainly carried over the top. I don't know, maybe he wants that question to be asked, how sensationalist is this? Severe drug side effects, to include bizarre behavior have been documented, and is anyone going to prove there is no unethical money made on what Wall street, the government, doctor's, and drug companies do lol. Maybe there's a deeper irony at work here. The films main weakness is the plot trips up in technical details- which Soderbergh usually pays more attention to. The plot discrepancies reduce the impact of the film as it morphs between its pharmaceutical side effect theme and its insider trading theme. It sometimes comes across as farcical- but it is no more absurd than what we see in the real world- The railroading of drugs onto the market, enthusiastic dispensal by doctors, the astronomical profits of drug companies; and the money wall street, and people on Capitol hill get on insider trading.
"Side effects" is on the extreme side, is deliberately paced (which anyone familiar with a lot of his stuff won't be surprised at) and try's to cover too much ground as it draws to its conclusion. The acceleration of events- from the slow start to the final act might leave some viewers a little confused. I still liked it better than many other recent offerings. As "Psychological Thrillers" go, this one will keep you entertained and get you thinking. I liked the concept of "side effects", and it has the crazy ending of a thriller. It was one of those movies that does'nt quite reach its full potential, and ends up being 3 or 4 stars instead of 5. I give it 3.5 stars. I'd Recommend to people who like a cerebral thriller, and to fans of Rooney Mara.
Update: I've since gotten the bluray version of this movie- and found both the sound and picture of the bluray transfer to be very good. Versus how I remember the film looking in the theater, things seem faithful to the color palette of Soderbergh, and everything is a little cleaner and clearer, so maybe they used some "DNR" in producing the bluray, but it is nothing unqualified, and in this case actually improves over what I saw in the theater.