Steven Soderbergh has retired! I don’t think any of us saw this coming, especially after the fact that he’s been directing, on average, about four films a year for the fast few years. Anyhow, Side Effects is, supposedly, his final cinematic release and, if that’s true, then it’s a fitting way to bow out. Setting itself up as a serious pharmaceutical drama, the film rapidly devolves into something altogether more sordid, contrived and a hell of a lot more fun. Yes, it’s silly, but this is exactly the sort of thing that makes people flock to the cinema in their droves (that, and Channing Tatum’s massive head wearing a tiny trilby).
Side Effects follows the story of Rooney Mara’s young wife, whose husband (Channing Tatum) has been away in prison having been convicted of insider trader. When he returns, she slumps into a spiral of depression that involves suicide attempts and hysterical breakdowns, and ends up becoming a patient of Jude Law’s inexplicably English doctor. What follows is a, sometimes cleverly shocking, look at the way that anti-depressants are prescribed and handled, by the public, media and legal system. But it’s also a sizzling crime drama that features more twists and turns than Russell Grant on Strictly.
Funnily enough, the beating heart of the movie is Jude Law, reunited with Soderbergh after his bafflingly shite turn in Contagion. He’s a character who’s sympathetic whilst always keeping you on edge; quite similar to Mara’s protagonist, but with more charm. Channing Tatum is, frankly, wasted (and a waste of space) in the film, whilst Catherine Zeta-Jones’ part feels a little underwritten and mismanaged. But the film lives and dies on the strength of Law and Mara and they do more than enough to make this a fun, two hour romp through the moral maze of medicine.
Fun, breezy and without the self-conscious seriousness that has sunk many psycho-thrillers. A fitting swansong for Soderbergh.
|Starring:||Rooney Mara, Jude Law, Channing Tatum, Catherine Zeta-Jones|
|Running Time:||Couple of hours|