SIDE EFFECTS. Starring Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Channing Tatum, Ann Dowd. Directed by Steven Soderbergh. Rated MA 15+ (Strong sex scene). 106 minutes.
Allegedly, Steven Soderbergh’s last film for the screen. He has been a most versatile director in terms of genres and variety of content. This one is an entertainment. It is a psychological crime thriller with some interesting developing twists.
But there is also a campaigning or crusading emphasis, with memories of his plague thriller of 2011, Contagion. The side-effects here (which play a crucial role in the murder), are those of drugs. The early part of the film bombards the audience with so many drug names, specialized artificial names, marketing and promotion of benefits, with little said of side-effects, that we are bamboozled at hearing about them, about frequent prescriptions and the American capacity of pill-popping.
Rooney Mara (Oscar nomination for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), is given a very strong role here. It should enhance her career. She has to go through a wide range of emotions and carries it all off convincingly. She is Emily, married to Martin, Channing Tatum (something of a regular in Soderbergh’s recent films), who was released from four years jail for insider trading. He is charming. She is depressed and has been having treatment from Doctor Siebert (a controlled Catherine Zeta-Jones), but, after a crash, is in the care of Dr. Jon Banks, Jude Law giving of reliable performance. He treats Emily but finds himself caught up in her case, subject to slander, hounded by the media and losing marriage, job and reputation.
He is determined to clear his name from blame for his prescriptions and Emily’s behavior. Step by step, he does, becoming something of a detective along the way, its all culminating in justice being eventually done.
This review has been careful not to reveal the core plot developments. Much more enjoyable and intriguing if you don’t know what is going to happen.
Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.
Out February 28 2013.