Side Effects (2013)


Dave’s 1-Word Review:

You know those commercials on anti-depressant medication? Smiling faces abound and a lot of evidence to suggest that unlike other medications, this is the best one out in the market? What happens at the end of that commercial every time? The narrator begins to speak at an alarmingly fast rate as he or she lists off the never-ending side effects that are possible. Often, these side effects end with “and sometimes death”, to which the commercial continues on with smiling faces, as the narrator slows down and tells you to ask your doctor about this medication today. We have all made fun of this type of commercial before, because let’s face it, a few side effects are one thing, listing off thirty is another thing, and death as a side effect doesn’t make anyone want to go out and purchase the product. However, if anything, the 2013 psychological thriller, Side Effects, tells us not to take these precautions lightly.

Rooney Mara stars in this dark thriller as Emily Taylor, a woman who has, for years, been suffering deeply from depression. After her husband (Channing Tatum) is released from prison, the effects of her depression seem to deepen further, to which she consults with Dr. Jonathon Banks (Jude Law). Banks prescribes a new drug on the market with promising initial tests. When someone close to Taylor dies from what appears to be her doing, she claims insanity, and points fingers at the new drug company, saying the side effects made her do it, and that she didn’t even remember doing it to begin with. Events lead to others, and Dr. Banks begins to question if Taylor was really depressed to begin with, or systematically made it up as the perfect alibi for murder.

This is quite a slow moving thriller as the movie starts – it basically was taking its time to introduce all of the characters for the audience to get a good grasp on all of the key players. Once it gets about a half hour through, that is when things really start to pick up, and it is also when we, as the audience, really want to see what happens next. It’s an interesting case, so the writing was really quite gripping. Thankfully, the writing wasn’t the only thing that shined.

The acting was out-of-this-world great. The editing was fantastic, the camerawork was pristine, the lighting, the sound, all of it was exactly how it was meant to be. The execution of mental illness in this movie was a little farfetched and Hollywood-ized, but at the same time, it was done very well for what it was. The story as a whole seems a little too implausible to accept. Interesting for a movie viewing? Yeah, sure, why not. It doesn’t have to be realistic, it just has to make sense within its own surroundings and settings. The movie’s setting made no attempt to suggest it’s anything different from our own world, so that is why the story as a whole feels implausible.

That being said, a film that carries enough interesting factors for an audience to be on the edge of their seats wondering what will happen next is an accomplishment for any movie. Side Effects really did have that element, and it continually maintained the overall tone throughout the film. There’s a lot of good things to actually say about the movie, and obviously it has its fault as well. Is it a buy? Not quite, but it is a decent rent. So next time you’re at a Redbox kiosk and don’t know what to get – check out Side Effects if you’re a fan of the psychological thriller genre!

Side Effects came to Blu-Ray and DVD on May 21!


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