Plot – A young woman’s world unravels when a drug prescribed by her psychiatrist has unexpected side effects.
Director – Steven Soderbergh
Released – 2013
Every year, you come across one film where it’s better to know nothing about the film before going in, whether Drew Goddard’s The Cabin in the Woods or J.J. Abrams Super 8. Side Effects is that film, where not knowing what to expect helps improve the viewing process. Rewarding you with an extremely engaging psychosexual mystery-thriller filled with multiple morally ambiguous characters brought together through one horrible incident.
Without giving away any of the intelligent, twist-filled plot written by Scott Z. Burns, Soderbergh directs the film with extreme confidence, using his skill as an experimental filmmaker to find interesting ways to draw attention to the many small, yet important details that you notice upon repeat viewings, however, his biggest skill is turning a story that could almost be too smart to the point of absurdity into one that never appears such by releasing only one small piece of information at a time, keeping the audience in the dark about each characters true motives and letting you form your own opinion until, finally, everything comes together into one neat conclusion.
In terms of performances, the two that stand out most belong to Jude Law’s and Rooney Mara’s. Law delivers one of his more memorable and nuanced performances in recent times as a doctor pushed to the limits both professionally and in his home life, while Mara once again proves to be one of the most versatile actresses working today and leaving you wanting to know more about this morally ambiguous character.
Very similar to the Jagged Edge, but updated and using more characters and a more sophisticated plot, Side Effects doesn’t change that game in terms of multi-layered thrillers, however, remains a perfectly structured and interesting movie that doesn’t need to resort to action to keep the audience excited.