Side Effects



Is it possible to kill someone in your sleep? That’s a valid question someone’s thought of before, and whether it went through Steven Soderbergh’s head when he shot his reportedly last film doesn’t particularly matter. What matters is his last film is one of his best films – showcasing his brilliant pacing, keeping big actors on role and out of stardom, and utilizing the script’s meaning above the placement of the shot. Side Effects might be the end for Soderbergh, but it’s certainly not the end for actress Rooney Mara and actor Jude Law, who both star.


Jude Law
Rooney Mara
Catherine Zeta-Jones
Channing Tatum


Steven Soderbergh


8th February, 2013


106 minutes


Visceral, dark, and always mysterious, Side Effects has a certainly unique premise. Martin (Channing Tatum) is coming home to his depressed wife Emily (Rooney Mara) after a four-year prison sentence for insider trading. The next scene shows Emily driving her car straight into a brick wall – zero metaphor – and in the next scene at the hospital, she meets Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law). This meeting goes from “suicide attempt” to “mistake” to seeing him as a doctor. Trying out a few anti-depressants, Jonathan recommends a new drug – Ablixa, which was actually recommended to him by a Dr. Victoria Siebert (Catherine Zeta-Jones).


After taking this medication, Emily is revitalized and happier than before, but sleepwalks often,
scaring Martin. And although I’m about to say a sentence that might “spoil” the movie, it doesn’t. She stabs Martin and kills him while sleepwalking. Blamed for sleepwalking because of the medication, Jonathan’s medical practices are called into question by the media and by his associates. Even his daily life with his wife takes a turn for the worst when Jonathan spends his time away from seeing patients by actively researching anything to help his case and ease his mind. While this goes on, Emily is put on trial.


What happens in the next hour is something of a masterpiece. With an incredible plot of many layers, twists, and turns, the film does a surprisingly great job on allowing the dramatic suspense to build into a cluster of prime film – the film you dream of watching. Mara’s faux-displaced, but clearly desperate attitude throughout the film is worth watching again and again. Jude Law’s performance is also riveting – with every nuance of his character’s emotion, it’s portrayed perfectly.


Side Effects can be a dark, psychological thriller capable of making you think. Films that make you think are always good. A brilliant script from Scott Z. Burns will have you awestruck after watching. Wound up until the final turn, Side Effects is one of those films with a huge payoff at the end, which will leave you with absolute certainty that this is a film to not miss.





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