¨Depression is the inability to construct a future.¨
Side Effects is said to be Steven Soderbergh´s last film, but I expect him to come back from retirement sometime in the near future. If he decides this is really going to be his last film then he will go out with a good resume, although I wouldn’t consider Side Effects among his best works, which are Traffic, Ocean´s Eleven, and Out of Sight, but it still is a strong film to go out with it. I actually enjoyed Contagion and Magic Mike more than I did this, but the variety of films that Soderbergh has directed is proof of what a versatile director he really is. His films are all very different from each other and even Side Effects takes a tremendous turn halfway through the movie proving what a great director Soderbergh can be. The movie begins as sort of this drama about pharmaceuticals and depression, but at the midway point it transforms itself completely to a provocative suspenseful thriller. This is not an easy task, but Soderbergh manages to make the transition masterfully. I had a hard time with the pace of the first part of the film, but your patience is really rewarded through the second part where the film picks up completely and has you second guessing everyone´s intentions. None of the characters in this film are likeable, they are all morally ambiguous but somehow we care for what happens to them. My only complaint would have to be that Channing Tatum´s character doesn’t get much depth, but the film really doesn’t focus on him so it is ok. His role could have been played by a nobody and it would have been pretty much the same thing. This is probably one of his weakest performances as of late. Rooney Mara, Jude Law, and Catherine Zeta Jones on the other hand give very strong performances and have us siding for each one of them at different times. This is something only Soderbergh could have pulled off, completely switching the genre of the film halfway through the movie.
This is one of those films that fortunately the trailer doesn’t give away much and that the less you know about the plot the better because the twists are really rewarding. I will describe the plot as brief as possible without giving anything away. Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara) had her world turned upside down when her husband Martin (played by Channing Tatum) was imprisoned for some kind of financial fraud. He was imprisoned for four years and he is finally being released. Emily is trying her best to adapt and make the transition back to her normal life after having decided to wait for him, but she´s finding it very difficult to deal with and is suffering from some sort of severe depression. One day she tries to commit suicide by smashing her vehicle into a concrete wall. She ends up in the hospital being treated for mild injuries and Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law) treats her and makes a psychological evaluation. He decides to let Emily return home after she promises to continue treatment with him several times a week. During the days that follow, Emily continues to struggle with depression and Dr. Banks begins testing some new medication on her since she is struggling with the side effects. He also decides to set an interview with Dr. Victoria Siebert (Catherine Zeta Jones), Emily´s former shrink who treated her during Martin´s time in jail. Somehow Emily begins to experience some strange side effects and something goes terribly wrong putting both Emily and Dr. Banks’ life in the public eye.
Side Effects may suffer from a very slow opening, but it does get better once the suspense begins. I loved the way in which Soderbergh suck me into the film and had me second guessing everything that was going on. That was what made this film enjoyable because I was prepared to stop watching when we got to the midway point. Jude Law and Rooney Mara were both superb in this film; they gave strong performances and had good characters to work with. The screenplay was also really well written with some great dialogues and fun twists. It was written by Scott Z. Burns who had worked with Steven in the past (Contagion and The Informant). He also is responsible for adapting the screenplay for The Bourne Ultimatum. His filmography is proof of what a talented writer he is, and he doesn’t disappoint here with a very clever and ingenious script. Side Effects is one of those movies that sticks with you and has you thinking for days to come. It is a very rewarding and satisfying film, but I´ve had more fun with other Soderbergh movies.