It feels like a long time since we had that 12 day heat wave, and yet this Tuesday just passed I requested a trip to the movies from my boyfriend. The cool air-conditioning of a movie theatre at midday, when there’s nobody else in the cinema but a few scattered old people, a choc-top in one hand and icy water in the other makes for an excellent escape from the heat.
There wasn’t much showing, so we chose Side Effects. I had heard that it’s really good, and knowing Jude Law was in it helped – he’s always good, too. Most people have said the same sorts of things: “Side Effects is awesome. At first you don’t know what’s happening, but then the second half…”
Interestingly vague praises that had me waiting throughout the movie for that eluded to ‘second half’. Not that it was all waiting, I enjoyed the first half, and didn’t feel like I was waiting for it to get better.
What’s it about?
Rooney Mara’s character Emily, is depressed, and when her husband Martin (Channing Tatum) returns home from prison, she drives her car into a wall. In hospital, she meets psychiatrist Dr. Johnathon Banks (Jude Law), who she promises to come see. In their sessions he prescribes her an anti-depressant suggested by her ex-psychiatrist, Dr. Victoria Sibert (Catherine Zeta-Jones). The drug has – you guessed it – side effects, and those side effects have consequences.
Side Effects is an entertaining, non-pretentious drama, but also has elements of thriller and crime.
Would I like it?
I walked out of this movie exclaiming ‘wow! that was so good!’ and this was down to the smooth cinematography / look of the film, the good performances from the actors (though, Jude Law doesn’t sound sincere at times), the soundtrack and music fitted the look well, the clothing suited the look as well, and the plot itself had me listening to all dialogue.
You suspect something, but aren’t sure what, and simultaneously your suspicions don’t take away from the enjoyment of the current scenes. If you like that element of an unknown undertone that surfaces half-way through a film, or if you like a drama based around a problem rather than people (Mara’s depression) then you will probably enjoy the film.
Don’t be fooled by the mention of a ‘first half’ vs ‘second half’ scenario, because you won’t be confused during the first part of the film. The whole film is very effortlessly smooth, clever and enjoyable in a suspenseful way.
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh. (Ocean’s Eleven / Twelve / Thirteen, Traffic, Contagion)
Written by: Scott Z. Burns. (the Bourne Ultimatum)
The film seems to be made more for entertainment than to prove some sort of arty point, while also being artful. It’s a good balance.
I don’t often leave a film saying ‘awesome!’ so I give this one 4/5.