Side Effects Review

Steven Soderbergh's latest and possibly last film is a fantastically written thriller, focusing on a woman with clinical depression and the consequences of the drugs that her psychiatrist recommends. Except it's not quite that simple.

Before I go much further, I must say that in my opinion there is no hero in this film. Probably the least immoral character you will find is Martin (Channing Tatum), and he's been in prison for insider trading. Others have disagreed, and have come away from the film with the impression that Jude Law's character is supposed to be the hero who gives the villains what they deserve.

Depending on your interpretation, the message of this film is either "Look at the lengths that these terrible people will go to", or "Look at these terrible people be rightfully punished, psychological torment is too good for them". I felt that it was the former, and so I enjoyed this film as a study of deception and as a challenge to the audience's sense of morality.

To give too many details about this film would spoil the plot twists, but the gist is this: Emily (played extremely well by Rooney Mara) is clinically depressed, and finding it difficult adjusting to life with her husband Martin, who has just been released from prison for white collar crime. Her psychiatrist is Dr Jonathan Banks (Jude Law, who also gives a stellar performance), and he prescribes a certain medication to help curb her suicidal tendencies. The side effects of the drug are unexpected and lead to disaster for everybody involved.

The cast do an excellent job, especially Rooney Mara. There is a point in the film where we begin to see through Dr Banks' eyes rather than Emily's, and from then on you realise just how well Mara has been acting (especially if you are a fan of anything 'meta'). Catherina Zeta-Jones' character, another psychiatrist, is one of those performances which creeps up on you as you realise what has really been happening throughout the film.

It's a gripping psychological thriller, and well worth seeing if you like films that keep you guessing. 8/10

Watch the trailer here:


For those who may be affected, I give this film a content warning for suicide attempts and psychiatric malpractice.