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Side Effects - Review

Side Effects

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

STEVEN Soderbergh’s latest offering is a taut, twisting, pitch black thriller that’s worthy of a place among the director’s best work.

As much a commentary on contemporary attitudes to prescription drugs as it is a Hitchcockian pot-boiler, this is Soderbergh working audience intelligence while also giving his leading players plenty to chew on.

Emily (Rooney Mara) is a young woman with a history of depression who struggles to keep her life in balance once her husband (Channing Tatum) is released from a stint in prison for insider trading.

She seeks counsel with a sympathetic psychiatrist, Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law) who, in turn, seeks treatment advice from Emily’s former shrink, Dr. Victoria Siebert (Catherine Zeta Jones). But when the latter recommends a new drug that’s relatively untested things take a turn for the worse.

Side Effects is the type of film that works best when you don’t know what’s coming so try to refrain from too many spoiler reviews!

Those that do manage not to find out what secrets lie within will be rewarded with a thriller that engages the brain while posing some intriguing moral and ethical questions both in terms of the pharmaceutical industry and the law, as well as the effectiveness of psychiatry.

It’ll also keep you guessing as to its outcome, which doesn’t disappoint.

Performance-wise, all four leads excel with Mara and Law the pick of the bunch. Law, in particular, is on career-best form as the psychiatrist who finds his career on the line (and more besides), while Rooney invests Emily with an intriguing ambiguity that is, by turns, sympathetic and dangerous.

Soderbergh, meanwhile, brings his customary visual style with the intelligence to match, while refusing to compromise on some of the film’s meaner elements.

Side Effects is therefore an addictive piece of work that has plenty to offer.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 106mins
UK Release Date: March 8, 2013