What starts out as a drug-gone-bad movie, turns out to be a crime thriller with a couple unexpected twists. “Side Effects” stars Jude Law as psychiatrist Dr. Jonathan Banks and Rooney Mara as his murderous patient, Emily Taylor. Well-written by Scott Z. Burns and well-directed by Steven Soderbergh, this film is a far-from-typical character study. It highlights the disturbing frequency with which doctors prescribe antipsychotic drugs as if they were side-effectless placebos…
A quiet person and a good employee, Emily Taylor has waited patiently for four years for her husband, Martin (Channing Tatum), to get out of prison for insider trading. However, their reunion is far from electric. While Martin is eager to get on the financial track again, Emily is not making it easy. Her depression seems to have returned with her husband. She disappoints him at a prestigious party, where the hostess confesses to her that she also had depression and drugs in the past. She disappoints her boss (Polly Draper), who has had depression and drugs, as well. Both of these older women recommend to Emily new antidepressants that have helped them. [At this point, I thought, Great! A movie about women struggling with life and stress. How fun – not!]
Emily’s rapid downhill spiral leads to two suicide attempts and ends with her stabbing Martin to death while on a new drug, Ablixa, prescribed by Dr. Banks, who she met in the hospital after the first suicide attempt. While he is treating her, she mentions that she had some problems before and was treated by Dr. Victoria Siebert (Catherine Zeta-Jones) in Connecticut. Dr. Siebert consults with Dr. Banks and suggests he might try prescribing Ablixa for Emily.
Meanwhile, the company producing Ablixa recruits Dr. Banks for a handsome fee, to recruit some of his patients to take part in a study involving Ablixa. Martin’s murder puts Banks, his marriage, and his job in jeopardy. His wife, Dierdre (Vinessa Shaw), leaves him and takes their son when he is fired and begins to obsess over Emily’s case and the side effects of Ablixa. [At this point, Danny raises his icksnay-the-unsupportive-wife flag.]
He and Dr. Siebert testify at Emily’s trial and convince her to take a plea deal, which involves being institutionalized rather than imprisoned. Banks discovers the truth behind everything and…I won’t spoil it for you, except to say that deception is the name of this particular movie game.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.