VOD film review: Side Effects
James R | On 02, Aug 2013
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Cast: Rooney Mara, Channing Tatum, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jude Law
Watch Side Effects online in the UK: Amazon Prime / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Google Play
You always know what you’re going to get from a prescription – it’s listed right there on the bottle. The same can’t be said of Steven Soderbergh. From trafficking and male strippers to heists and piano players, he’s a director who slides between genres with astounding ease. His latest film, Side Effects, is no exception. It’s so chameleonic that it should come with its own warning label.
Emily (Mara) is sad. So she takes drugs to stop her feeling sad. Her doctor, Jonathan Banks (Law), prescribes them after she tries to commit suicide. His wife (Vinessa Shaw) is stressed. So she takes drugs to stop her feeling stressed. That’s just the way the world is: a place where popping pills is as natural as breakfast.
Why is Kate sad? Because her husband, Martin (Tatum), just got out of prison for insider dealing. Under the advice of her former shrink (a sexy Zeta-Jones) and the influence of pharmaceutical sponsors, Dr. Banks signs her up to a new drug to lift her blues.
It’s here that the side effects kick in: once Soderbergh opens the lid on his gripping pharmaceutical noir, the room starts to spin; you’ll experience hot flashes of Hitchcock and Polanski; uncomfortable squirming at moral ambiguity; involuntary jaw-dropping at Rooney Mara’s ability to act naive; increased brain activity; infrequent eye-opening at Soderbergh’s cinematography; occasional heart failure at unexpected behaviour and uncontrollable biting of nails as things quietly shift from a character study into a corporate detective thriller.
Could anyone else make such an surprising, slick and deceptive movie? Lies and greed are the symptoms and Soderbergh plays with Scott Z. Burns’ script to create a cool look at a substance-fuelled society, a shot of antidote that cuts through the druggy haze with a steamy, scathing wit.
The result is an addictive and entertaining piece of cinema. You won’t see the side effects coming – even when they’re written on the bottle.
Side Effects is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.