Side Effects (2013)

Side Effects

As a beginner movie-buff, I don’t know Steven Soderbergh that much. To be honest, the only film of him that I have watched is “Contagion”, and I wasn’t very impressed by it. That’s why, the news of him de-listing himself from the world of cinema after directing “Side Effects” may be not that fantastic for me (at least, compared to how fantastic the news of Sir Alex Ferguson retiring is, LOL). But, I did list “Side Effects” in my watch-list this year because of some reasons. Is it really a nice closing for the director’s career?

SYNOPSIS / “Side Effects” is about pills, medications, and mental illness. Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara) is in anxiety waiting for her husband, Martin Taylor (Channing Tatum), released from prison. As she feels a lot more depressed, she sees a psychiatrist named Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law). Dr. Banks gives her some medications after consulting with Emily’s previous psychiatrist, Dr. Victoria Siebert (Catherine Zeta-Jones). But Emily is addicted to her medications, as she goes out-of-control even after Martin is finally released from jail.

Side Effects
Rooney Mara is Emily Taylor, a wife who is in anxiety waiting for her husband, Martin Taylor (Channing Tatum) released from prison.

REVIEW / Honestly, addressing this movie as a career-closer movie is way too exaggerating, because “Side Effects” perhaps is not that ground-breaking at all. It tends to be a so-so movie. Good movie, but in a moderate level. The most interesting part of “Side Effects” is on how Scott Z. Burns, Soderbergh’s long-term screenwriter, tells the story very tidily. Every step on the plot is put in a neat and continuous arrangement, so the viewers can absorb it very clearly and conveniently. You don’t need to frown to digest the story because, well, thanks to the screenwriter for writing this average-looking but extraordinary screenplay.

The story of “Side Effects” develops from just a story of a depressed wife seeing a psychiatrist and starting consuming medicines out of the normal dosage, to a look to the profession of paramedic and psychiatry itself. I think this is a suitable movie for every doctor aspirant (LOL) because this movie tells what doctors face in their real job. The dilemma of doctor-patient relationship and the national business of medicines are presented neatly in this movie. More than that, “Side Effects” places itself on the list of drama-thriller movies that are capable to satisfy twisting and full-of-secret movie lover like me. Yes, there is a twist in the ending that although is not very special, but successfully makes me a bit surprised. There is also a diamond-cut-diamond stuff in “Side Effects”, giving it another additional value.

Side Effects
Jude Law is Dr. Jonathan Banks, a psychiatrist Emily sees due to her depression.

Soderbergh uses blooming white tone coloring, making every bright color looks vivid and blur. The play of camera focus is also a prominent technique in “Side Effects”. This is a good cinematography to support the depressive, low-mood story of the movie. Maybe some viewers may end up sleepy during the movie because it really goes plainly. But, described as a chart, the curve of “Side Effects” story notches up near the ending, making every viewer who does not pay close attention to it become overwhelmed and regretful for not watching it well. Techno-beat styled scoring is able to give the mysterious nuance of the movie, inviting the viewers to be suspicious for all the plainness “Side Effects” offers just from the beginning.

Nothing really special from the acting of the actors. This is the first movie of Rooney Mara that I watch after “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and apparently she is one factor that attracts me to watch “Side Effects”. Honestly, in the first half of the movie, she looks a bit like Lisbeth Salander without gothic makeup, punk hairstyle, and piercings. Emily Taylor, the character she portrays in this movie, pushes her to show her expression-less and cold mimic. Her character is almost undeveloped, even until the twist when every grey character shows their real faces. Jude Law’s performance is not interesting, except for his British accent (which I notice he also used for his character in “Contagion”). Channing Tatum appears very shortly, nothing significant. I think Dr. Sieber by Catherine Zeta-Jones is the most interesting character in “Side Effects” for her edgy appearance, and she is the reason for most of my suspicion.

Side Effects
Catherine Zeta-Jones as Dr. Victoria Siebert, with her edgy appearance.

CONCLUSION / “Side Effects” is a gripping movie with a tidy plot. Regardless of it being the last work of the director, “Side Effects” is an interesting movie about psychiatry. It is plain, and for that, it may not be a must-watch for everyone. Still, this is a good presentation with interesting package of story for all mystery-thriller lover.

Side Effects3.5 out of 5 stars

 ▲  Tidy plot, nice camera play and coloring, gripping story
 ▼  Too plain, undeveloped and uninteresting characterization

SIDE EFFECTS | COUNTRY USA YEAR 2013 RATING Rated R for sexuality, nudity, violence, and language RUNTIME 106 min GENRE Crime, Drama, Thriller CAST Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Channing Tatum, Ann Dowd WRITER Scott Z. Burns DIRECTOR Steven Soderbergh MORE INFO

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