Movies: Side Effects

This is one of those movies that probably read well as a script but in execution—yea verily, even in the capable hands of Steven Soderbergh—ends up being soporific and monotonous. Also, the "twist" was utterly predictable.

Rooney Mara plays Emily Taylor, a young woman suffering acute depression and whose husband (Channing Tatum) has just been released from prison for insider trading. Already this movie is boring. When Emily runs her car at a wall but survives, she starts seeing a therapist (Jude Law) and taking a hot new antidepressant. Unfortunately, the side effects (roll credits) include cooking while sleepwalking, the ultimate result being [SPOILERS, SWEETIES] she stabs her husband to death during one of these sleepwalking episodes. Because she mistook him for a tomato or something, I guess.

Yawn. This movie is meant to be tense, I think, but it just isn't. Even as Jude Law goes all Watson and begins to unravel the truth, it's just . . . I was never made to care that much about any of the characters. Maybe it's just hard to make someone depressed very interesting, but I disliked Emily more than sympathized with her. I did feel bad for Law's therapist, who suffers a lot of blowback from having his patient become a murderer while under his care, but then he sort of goes off the deep end himself and makes himself a bit unlikable, even though we as viewers are aware he's in the right. There needed to be some kind of shift in the way the movie was filmed—a slight POV change—to make it palatable. Instead it's a lot of washed-out, moody filters. It made me sleepy.

I'll watch Jude Law in just about anything, but this wasn't one of the better ones. Side Effects is one of those that makes you wonder whether the cast knew as the filming went along that it wasn't going to be equal to the sum of its parts. Or were they all really believing in that script and director only to be disappointed in the outcome? Maybe Soderbergh himself was disappointed, too, as it became his last feature film (as director; he still produces) and he announced an intention to stick to television shortly thereafter.

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