Side Effects (2013) | Movie Review

Side Effects.jpg

Release date: February 8, 2013
Runtime: 1 hr. 55 min.
MPAA rating: R

I was blown away by this film. I haven't seen a psychological thriller this good in a long time: it was engaging, thought provoking and had some interesting turns I did not see coming. If Side Effects really is Steven Soderbergh's last movie, it's definitely a powerful exit. I was into it from beginning to end and so far this is a winner of 2013 for me.

Side Effects turned out to be something completely different from what I expected it to be. I guess I really didn't know what to expect, since the trailer that I saw just confused me. It's also really hard to talk about this movie without giving any spoilers, so here is my attempt to sum up the premise of it. Emily (Rooney Mara) and Martin (Channing Tatum) are a young married couple. Martin has been in jail for insider trading, but he is now being released and Emily has trouble adjusting to the new lifestyle. She starts seeing a psychiatrist, Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law), to deal with her depression and things start getting weird when she is put on a new medicine called Ablixa.

The initial film description, along with the trailer, might turn some people off by making them think it's just another anti-pharma propaganda, but trust me - it's not. Sure, there might be some elements of it along with everything else, however Side Effects is such a layered work it's hard to pinpoint what it's really about without giving things away. It isn't very confusing either: while you might be pulled in a few different directions during the film, everything eventually makes sense.

The four lead performances were really good. I honestly can't single anyone out - everyone seemed very organic and truthful, but also very different, with each actor bringing something unique to his or her role. It's a point to great casting, I guess, as nobody felt out of place. The secondary characters were on par as well. The film generally felt very well put together in all aspects: from shots, to talent, to script and pacing. I especially enjoyed the cinematography - I felt a distinctive style coming through. I also liked that the story was complete and there was no ambiguity left at the end, with all loose ends being tied. What's funny is that my friend I saw it with actually didn't like that - she wished something was left for her to interpret. I personally didn't see room for doing that within the circumstances (if you've seen the film you'll know what I'm talking about) and I felt like if anything was left ambiguous the story wouldn't have made as much sense, especially with the amount of uncertainty present throughout Side Effects. With so many films being left open-ended these days I was actually very glad that this one was not.

Here is the summary of my review here, in four words: just go see it. Whether you are normally interested in psychological thrillers or not, I think this movie is an example if very good filmmaking and I highly recommend it.

So who has seen this already? What did you guys think?

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