Review: Side Effects

Isabella Loskutoff ’15 / Emertainment Monthly Staff

Rooney Mara and Channing Tatum star in "Side Effects" which hits theaters Feb. 8. Copyright © 2011 Open Road Films
Rooney Mara and Channing Tatum star in “Side Effects” which hits theaters Feb. 8. Copyright © 2011 Open Road Films
Side Effects is the story of Emily Taylor, a woman who has lost touch with reality and cascaded down the cliffs of depression. The use of drugs has altered her reactions and emotions towards strangers, her loved ones, and even herself. Yet, is Emily’s inability to create a future the only thing contaminating her thoughts?
To get right into it, the plot was painstakingly drawn out. Calling a movie a “psychological thriller” automatically creates interest, yet for the first half of the film the audience is staring at the screen wondering what is going to happen to bring them to the edge of their seats. Finally, there is a moment of, “Oooh!” echoed throughout the crowd. We are then left to sit on the top of the climax for a little while, wondering what is going on and where the story will move next. There are multiple, smaller climaxes — thanks to Jude Law’s character — as the falling action takes  place, and finally we are given a resolution. There is confusion and lack of significance towards many scenes in the movie which leads to an unsatisfied feeling when leaving the theater. Overall, this film catered to its psychological aspect but not so much the thriller part.
The ever talented and beautiful Rooney Mara is once again thrown into a world of secrets and isolation. I couldn’t help but compare this character, Emily Taylor, to that of her break out role, Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. In doing this, I found many similarities. Emily is Lisbeth with a little more life coursing through her veins. There are often moments Mara’s character retreats into herself much like her former role. Although the acting was excellent and compelling, there were a few too many similarities within the parts. With so much prevalent talent, I can only hope Mara does not become type cast in future films.
Alongside Rooney Mara’s performance we have a healthy list of other big name stars such as Jude Law, Channing Tatum, and Catherine Zeta-Jones. However, aside from Jude Law’s performance as Dr. Jonathan Banks, Emily’s psychiatrist, I found Tatum and Zeta-Jones to lack luster. Either of these actors could have been replaced, and their roles left a lot of unanswered questions. Tatum’s performance was transparent and average. There is nothing that really tied him to the role which made sympathy for his character hard to come by. Catherine Zeta-Jones provoked a little more emotion, but there was something that made her seem so out of place in the movie.
The cinematography was creative and rather beautiful. Director Steven Soderbergh, known for Magic Mike, Contagion, and Ocean’s Thirteen, took an interesting approach to the way this movie was filmed. There were places where I was reminded of Requiem for a Dream, but overall I found his style artistic and unique. It offered a new light on how to capture characters in their essence. Pay attention to the opening and closing of the film; I found it particularly powerful.
I would not suggest going to the movies for this one, but it is definitely worth a Netflix night and a bowl of popcorn drowned in butter or smothered in sugar.

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