Film Review by Kam Williams
Martin Taylor (Channing Tatum) has just been paroled after serving four years in prison for insider trading. His wife, Emily (Rooney Mara), is eagerly anticipating his return, because she’s been depressed since being separated from him and losing the lavish lifestyle to which she’d become accustomed.
However, their long-awaited reunion proves to be bitterly disappointing for her, between the unsatisfying sex and her having to be the family’s breadwinner. After several months, the poor woman is so plunged into the depths of despair that she tries to kill herself by driving her car into a brick wall.
Emily is put on the anti-depressant Zoloft, by Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law), a shrink who discharges her from the hospital on the condition that she continue to see him on an outpatient basis. When that medication doesn’t agree with her, at the suggestion of her former psychiatrist (Catherine Zeta-Jones), he decides to switch her over to an experimental drug he will get paid to prescribe.
But Ablixa has even worse side effects, such as causing Emily to sleepwalk. Subsequently, while in somnambulant state, (SPOILER ALERT), she stabs her unsuspecting hubby to death.
Suddenly Dr. Banks finds himself on the griddle, since he got a $50,000 kickback from the pharmaceutical industry to promote Ablixa. It’s not long before his career is hanging in the balance, given that he had good reason to take his patient off the medication.
Not so fast, Kimosabe. For, what at first blush looks like an open and shut case of malpractice turns out to be something far more sinister. Might Martin have had an enemy who wanted him dead? Persons of interest soon emerge from the shadows, from his miffed mother-in-law (Ann Dowd), to the former colleague (David Costabile) suspected of snitching on him, to Dr. Banks’ estranged wife (Vinessa Shaw), with a few other red herrings tossed into the mix for good measure.
So unfolds Side Effects, an over-plotted whodunit directed by Steven Soderbergh. The movie marks the Oscar-winner’s (for Traffic) final film, unless he can be coaxed out of retirement for a future project.
A tad too complicated for its own good, this headache-inducing brainteaser feels more like taking an SAT test than a mere murder mystery. Still, the picture’s worth the investment just to witness Rooney Mara’s spellbinding performance as a beleaguered mental patient struggling to get her meds right.
The Girl with a Dragon of a Depression!
Very Good (3 stars)
R for profanity, sexuality, nudity and violence
Running time: 105 minutes
Distributor: Open Road Films
To see a trailer for Side Effects, visit
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