Side Effects // Film Review

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“Depression is the inability to construct a future”

With a clever trailer scheme running behind it giving red herrings left, right and centre; you really do go into the screen believing the film is going to go one way only to see it twist, turn and transform into something completely different. In fact, Side Effects has so many twists throughout the narrative you are never completely sure what is actually going to happen. This isn’t the kind of film you can go into expecting to shovel popcorn into your mouth and only pay half your attention to the screen, no sir, with so many enigmas and red herrings scattered throughout the first hour which will then be picked up again later on so you are expected to be paying attention from the start.

Steven Soderbergh was behind last year’s Contagion, a film that I intended to see but never got round to seeing and one I expect shares very similar values to and themes to Side Effects as well as sharing the aesthetic style. I was therefore expecting something maybe as threatening and gory as this film had seemed last year but instead was satisfied by a smaller scale plot with consequences for only the main characters. Once the story itself concludes you do end up completely satisfied to have given the time to understand the goings on while also sympathising with Jude Law’s character Dr. Banks.

Side Effects is clever as it continuously makes you think that something is not right somewhere but you are never sure until nearer the end who it is that is in a right state of mind and who isn’t. In this sense it is a real psychological thriller at heart and puts doubt into your mind about every character in the film. Rooney Mara plays the disturbed and depressed Elizabeth and gives a satisfyingly disturbing performance on many levels and the film’s conclusion really does give a satisfying if a little sinister conclusion that you doubt will happen from the start.

The film is well-paced with everything you see adding towards an end worth watching and includes scenes that will make audiences gasp in shock and confusion. These kind of scenes really make a film worth watching and especially as it is hard to guess the outcome of the final scenes as well as the reasons behind it.

It’s the kind of film you can only watch once or maybe twice if you don’t fully ‘get it’ the first time but not something that would stand out in a DVD collection despite being high on intensity and shock revelations Once you know these twists are coming the film would kind of lose its magic. Jude Law carries this film well as does Mara and Zeta-Jones. Channing Tatum’s move into a more serious role however is questionable, even though he doesn’t talk too much I guess he owed Soderbergh a favour after Magic Mike or maybe he’s a Depp to Soderbergh’s Burton.

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