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Review: Side Effect—Prescription for a Friday night

Photo provided by www.SideEffectTheMovie.net
Photo provided by www.SideEffectTheMovie.net

The only side effect that the film Side Effect will have on audiences is that no one will stop talking about it.

Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) is a young woman whose husband has just been released from a four-year stint in prison for insider trading. Shortly afterwards, Emily begins spiraling back into depression, something she struggled with in the past.

¬†After a reckless incident, Emily begins seeing a new psychiatrist, Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law). When the usual antidepressants don’t work for her, Dr. Banks prescribes her a newer drug. Emily believes its helping, but the drug’s side effects are more severe than her new doctor anticipated and worse than she experienced in the past. Side Effects is a film that should be experienced firsthand.

Side Effects captivates both as a thriller and as skeptical commentary on the America culture of greed, over-medication and social media sensationalism. It shows a system where everyone is out to get whatever they want, as fast as they can get it regardless of how it affects others. It is a system that became far too entrenched in American culture. 

Law and Mara are both stunning. As the story unfolds, they excel at showing their character’s rapidly deteriorating mental and emotional states. Mara is particularly gifted as an actor because she doesn’t even need to speak to captivate audiences: one look, one stare is enough to hold viewers’ attention.

The intricate script unfolds new twists rapidly, but they never feel contrived, viewers are never lost and somehow they are always plausible. Attentive viewers will correctly guess some of the twists. Others will come as a shock.

Director Steven Soderbergh delights in simple but nonconventional shots. Beautiful images are mixed with shocking images, keeping viewers on the edge.

Simply put, Side Effects is the best thriller in years. It takes viewers away from the mindless entertainment of too many films and actually forces them to think.