Side Effects

Viewed – 31 July 2013  DVD

On initial release, the big draw of this was that it was to be the final film of Director Steven Soderberg’s prolific career.  Now I wouldn’t say I’m either an admirer or dislike the movies of this acclaimed filmmaker, having enjoyed the likes of Traffic, Haywire but rarely totally loving his style, which is normally fly on the wall realism with a shimmer of Hollywood style.  He attracts big names to many of his movies, but often sticks with a set group of actors – and this is no different.


Jude Law is a psychiatrist who stumbles upon the case of depressive young woman, Emily (Rooney Mara) who having just attempted suicide by driving her car into a wall – he agrees to treat her.  After being recommended a new drug by a work colleague, a fellow psychiatrist played by Catherine Zeta Jones, Law’s treatment of Emily soon takes a turn for the worse when unexpected side effects become apparent.

Good to see Mara in a more interesting and absorbing role than that of the disappointing remake of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, with this complex character suiting her better, making for a promising young actress.  Jude Law is a personal favorite of mine and think he gets better with age, and here he is very good as a doctor in a difficult situation.  Less appealing is the normally enjoyable Zeta Jones who apart from clearly looking like she’s had some work done, just doesn’t suit the rather manipulative turn she presents here, but was still kind of sexy.  Soderberg’s swansong may lack the multi-layered complexity of some of his other work, but is a more than worthy end to an acclaimed career, with enough twists and turns to keep this viewer gripped (with one particular heart-in-mouth moment).  However as the subject wasn’t overly appealing, I came away not exactly blown away even when certain unexpected developments were revealed.  Soderberg’s movies have often left me feeling like that, like he could churn this kind of material out in his sleep – and as always it’s cold and clinical, with the odd good moment.  I won’t say some of the things here didn’t get me thinking, they certainly did … just not enough.

It sounds harsh, and don’t get me wrong he has made some good movies, this included, but he’s never wowed me, so I for one won’t miss his work all that much.   One for fans or anyone who finds the subject intriguing.

Verdict:  3 /5

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