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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Side Effects | Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Catherine Zeta-Jones | Review

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Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for
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Side Effects | Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Catherine Zeta-Jones | Review

Well being in a bottle or a psychotropic nightmare? Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara) searches for the former while encountering the latter in this dark, twisty tale from Director Steven Soderbergh (Magic Mike, The Girlfriend Experience).

Emily’s depressed, full of anxiety, hopelessness and heavily medicated. Oh, and she’s suicidal, too, which lands her under a new doctors care. Can new drugs be far behind?

A change of prescription from psychiatrist, Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law) causes her to slice into her devoted husband Martin (Channing Tatum) as if he were one of her sleepwalking vegetable medleys, law enforcement and the judicial system get involved.

Dramatic license weaves itself through the twisty plot like sauce on a plate of rotini. It’s Emily who seemingly cooks in her sleep when not contemplating suicide by car or train. Emily is sad. What will make her happy? The answer will surprise you, and the way it does is all Soderbergh, skillful at lulling the viewer into a conclusion before ripping their complacency away, all at a slow (and sometimes plodding) pace that’s low-key,– but effective. It’s a clever film, if not totally believable.

How responsible is someone who commits a crime they can’t remember while under the influence of prescription medication And what about the doctor who prescribed it?  And what about the pharmaceutical companies who manufacture them? Banks finds himself in an uncomfortable position as Emily is committed to a psychiatric ward and her trial approaches.

As his colleagues begin to distance themselves and Emily’s defense attorney spouts disturbing scenarios about where culpability could be placed, Banks initiates a one-man investigation. Consulting with Emily’s former therapist, Dr. Victoria Siebert (Catherine Zeta-Jones) Banks slowly unravels a story full of deceit and betrayal that indicts nearly everyone it touches.

A competent performance by Jude Law brings the credibility factor into sharper focus, as does Rooney Mara, whose see/sawing blankness and panic speak volumes about Emily’s conflicted inner state.

Catherine Zeta –Jones behind severe black eyeglass frames – you need them to be a female doctor, you know – acts mostly by eye contact; her voice is monotone as if she herself were in need of some anti-depressants. Channing Tatum’s miniscule screen time is almost a cameo; although the character of Martin is essential to the plot, his presence is not. Tatum scores just by showing up.

Side Effects is a labyrinth of revelation, delivering a big dose of moral ambiguity and intrigue along the way, some of it not so easy to swallow. No prescription required.

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