Thursday, 5 June 2014

Side Effects

Lowdown: When a depressed woman does the unthinkable, could the blame be laid on her medicine?
Our strange Rooney Mara festival is continuing with force. Only recently did I acquaint myself with this actress through the American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Then I watched Her, and now the trilogy concludes with Mara in Steven Soderbergh's Side Effects.
Side Effects has Mara playing the depressed woman, Emily, whose husband (Channing Tatum) was sent to jail for inside trading, thus causing her world to collapse. We join proceedings as the husband is released just to witness Mara attempting to take her own life. Luckily for her, she's assigned with what seems to be a good psychiatrist (Jude Law) to take care of her; that psychiatrist even consults with Emily's psychiatrist of old (Catherine Zeta-Jones).
Trying to do his best for Emily, the psychiatrist prescribes her with an experimental drug he happens to be paid to test by its pharmaceutical owner. Alas, the unthinkable happens, and it seems as if the medicine hindered rather than helped. The question now is, who is to blame? Is it the pharmaceutical company? Is it the psychiatrist prescribing the medicine? Or is it simply that it is still the person who did the unthinkable who is still to answer for their deeds, drugged or not?
Side Effect thus drifts from a thriller into a movie that seems to be there in order to point out the deficiencies of our health system, at least in the context of the way that system is being manipulated by gigantic conglomerates. However, it also time shares with a very Double Indemnity like set of ideas, to the point I started to question whether this one tries for more than it can chew by dancing at two weddings. Eventually, though, I concluded Side Effects fairs well on this front; if anything, I would say that once again Steven Soderbergh managed to produce a small gem. Side Effects is yet another demonstration of his ability to produce very focused visual impact.
It is also a very nice demonstration of Mara's abilities as an actress. Unlike Her, Side Effects has Mara doing pretty much the same role she did in Dragon Tattoo (sex scene included). The difference is that this time around it is a full time, starring role job. Clearly, Mara was unphased by the challenge. I will not deny being quite pleased with this movie doing the rare act of putting a woman in charge.
Overall: The feminist side of Side Effects help nudge this one to the right side of 3.5 out of 5 crabs.

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