There’s something strange and eerie about the Side Effects right from the first frame. A music box is playing in the background as the camera swoops toward an apartment window. It seems normal at first until the audience sees the inside of the apartment and sees blood on the floor and footsteps leading away from it.
Then the movie goes three months before the opening sequence. Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara) greets her husband Martin (Channing Tatum) on the day he is released from prison, where he served four years for insider trading. Emily then shows signs of depression and anxiety. She tries to commit suicide by driving her car into a wall.
At the hospital, she’s treated in the emergency room by Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law), a young psychiatrist who is starting to make a name in New York City. He agrees not to admit her but she has to attend regular appointments with him and take medications. But soon the side effects of the pills lead to a big change to the lives of everyone around her.
Side Effects has twists and turns that you might find in a typical thriller but something of the genre is only as good as its final punch. It could have a good first and second act but if the final act is not done right then the whole film is a letdown.
Side Effects loses its momentum at one point and it can’t get it back. Once the final act takes place, the audience will be disappointed as the end credits start rolling. Its technical execution is spot on and this makes the movie somewhat viewable. The actors also performed well, especially Rooney who gave Emily some credibility. Her depth is offset by Law’s superficial acting.
Director Steven Soderbergh manages to turn the uninspired story into something intriguing. Viewers can forgive the director for the dragging moments and it has some level of unpredictability one looks for in a thriller. But as soon as it ends, you get the feeling that it didn’t deliver everything as promised.