Movie Review for Side Effects

Side Effects  Side Effects


Starring: Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Channing Tatum, Catherine Zeta- Jones



Directed by Steven Soderbergh


Rated: R

Run Time: 106 mins

Genre: Drama/ Crime/ Thriller


Opens February 8th


By Lisa Minzey of The Reel


Hey Phoenix Film Fans!  Opening this week is the so-called last film of Director Steven Soderbergh's theatrical career.  He's retiring from films and says will be working on smaller projects, most likely in television. He picked a doozy of a film to go out with a bang with, the psychological thriller "Side Effects". It packs a whollop of star power in the casting of Channing Tatum, Jude Law, Rooney Mara and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara) is a patient woman. For the past 4 years, she has been waiting for her husband, Martin Taylor (Channing Tatum) to get out of prison. Martin had been incarcerated for insider trading and Emily, unable to cope with the trauma of losing her husband, losing their wealth, home and miscarrying their child, had a psychotic breakdown, seeking treatment for depression. She went through a slew of medications, but now that Martin has been released, the depression has surfaced with a vengeance.  Emily, unable to deal with the changes in her life, runs her nice VW car head first into her garage's brick wall.  A nearby janitor witnessed the scene and while in the emergency room, the witness's account played into the diagnosis as Emily is determined a suicide risk. The physician who treated her in the E.R. was Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law).  He allowed Emily to be released provided she saw him for treatment several times a week until he was convinced that Emily had her depression under control.

One prescription he put Emily on was based on the recommendation of Emily's previous shrink, Dr. Victoria Siebert (Catherine Zeta-Jones), the anti-depressant Alblixa. Emily seemed to do ok at first, getting her sex drive back, being able to function during the day but at night she would walk in her sleep. Martin was concerned about Emily's safety at night because several times she would cook or clean in her sleep. Dr. Banks knew this was a possible side effect and was going to take Emily off of it, but she insisted staying on the drug. Dr. Banks obliged as he was giving her control of her treatment to a point and did not consider her a threat. His career was taking off as his patient load was filling up, he was asked to be a participant physician in a drug study, and along with his rotations at the hospital, his focus on Emily was not quite 100%.

About 3 months into her sessions with Dr. Banks, Emily slept walk one evening and murdered Martin while unconscious. Unbeknownst to her,   she awoke finding the bloody body of her beloved husband. Once the authorities arrived at the scene, Emily became suspect number one in the case. Emily was arrested, and the case went to trial where she ended up taking a plea deal to be in a mental institution where she could be under observation. The defending attorney based the case on the side effects of Alblixa, which cause Emily to sleep walk. Seemed like a pretty open & shut case to Dr. Banks who kept treating Emily while in the mental institution.

Although everything made it look like Martin's murder was due to the side effects of Emily's prescription, Dr. Banks career was now in shambles due to the high profile court case. In an effort to clear his name, Dr. Banks does some deeper digging into the studies of Alblixa. What he finds is highly questionable and involves Dr. Siebert and her knowledge about the side effects of Alblixa.

The more Dr. Banks investigates; he is convinced that he made the wrong decision about Emily and now in a race to reclaim his life before he loses everything he holds dear.

This film has many layers to this cat & mouse psychological drama.  Director Steven Soderbergh picked a fantastic project to usher in his retirement with. The moral and ethical dilemmas dog piled into this film, the actors do a phenomenal job of tackling and delivering compelling performances. For those who thought Rooney Mara was a heartless psychopath in "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo", she takes the unhappy housewife to a new level.  This film takes so many twists, turns and delves in to murky waters with hot button topics such as large corporations, quality of mental healthcare and dependence of prescription drugs that this is one film that will spark many a debate once you leave the theater.  Be sure to check out "Side Effects" when it opens in theaters starting Friday February 8, 2013.