Side Effects

March 3, 2013 at 7:34 pm | Posted in 2013 | 1 Comment
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◊ ◊ ½

Steven Soderbergh is very hit or miss for me.  He has made brilliant films (“Traffic”), edgy art films (“The Limey”), pretentious nonsense (“Bubble”),  vapid blockbusters (the “Ocean’s” series).  I had not idea what to expect from his one.  It turned out to be a film in two parts.  I liked the first more than the second.  It started out as a serious and realistic drama exploring the ubiquity of mental health meds and the large industry behind their distribution.  The story starts with a 28 year old wife (Rooney Mara) reuniting with her husband (Channing Tatum) who has spent the last 4 years in prison.  He wants to reconnect with her and rebuild his life but she is deeply depressed.  She sees a psychiatrist (Jude Law) and he prescribes an SSRI.  When it has unpleasant side effects, they try another and another.  He consults with her former psychiatrist (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and she recommends a new drug.  So far so good.  Mara really shows her acting chops as she convincingly plays deep depression, lethargy, spaciness and the various other side effects she is required to pull off.  While the film appeared like it was going to be a complex look at our pharma-industry in this country, I was excited and drawn in.  Then act two begins.  I won’t bother to tell you anything about “act two” other than to say that, once I realized it was that type of movie, I suddenly had the whole story figured out; I knew the part each person was meant to play and how it was going to end.  This was no longer a thought-provoking drama, it was a Hollywood formula movie.  Now, having said that, it’s not a bad formula and can be a fun one to watch.  I did end up enjoying the ride, though (as is the case with this particular formula) the plot got less and less credible as the movie went on.  It ended up being silly fun.  Not a bad way to spend time at the movies but not the movie I wanted and not good use of a talent like Mara.


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  1. Awesome review Pete. This is a sleek and stylish genre entry with a keen sense of irony, impeccably made and paced.

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