Side Effects (2013) Review

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Been putting off reviewing this because I really don’t know how to go about it. It’s a hard plot to discuss at all without ruining the entire movie. Directed by Steven Soderbergh (supposedly his final film), Side Effects is about a depressed girl (Rooney Mara) who, after a suicide attempt, is prescribed a new drug by her psychiatrist (Jude Law). It also stars Channing Tatum as the girl’s husband and Catherine Zeta-Jones as another psychiatrist.

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I won’t go into the plot at all – I’ll just discuss the performances and what I liked about the movie. I don’t think I’m giving anything away by saying this is a psychological thriller and has a Hitchcock feel to it (as every review I’ve seen seems to say the same thing). I love Hitchcock and I love a good twisty-turny thriller that keeps you constantly guessing through the whole thing. There are so few quality movies in this sort of genre nowadays so I found Side Effects very enjoyable.

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As for the acting, I thought everyone did well in their roles. I thought Rooney Mara was the highlight of the movie. I’ve not seen her in her biggest role (Dragon Tattoo) but I can see how she was probably the perfect choice for the role of Lisbeth Salander – I’m looking forward to watching that now. But I have sort of a thing for “cold & aloof”. Both her Side Effects & Dragon Tattoo characters are that way so I’m not sure how great she’d be playing a different sort of character. And the “don’t give a fuck” attitude can get annoying after a while (smile Kristen Stewart!). So Rooney Mara will be an interesting one to watch to see if she can pull off playing characters who are less mentally unstable. And I think she has lovely eyes!

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I also thought Jude Law did a very good job. I liked him in this & I normally don’t like him. I can’t explain this – I have no good reason for not liking him! Just like I have zero reason to hate Channing Tatum. This is the ONLY thing I’ve ever seen him in. I think he reminds me of the type of arrogant jocks I hated SO much in high school. That’s probably unfair as I’ve never seen him in anything, not even an interview. 😉 He’s fine in Side Effects – you don’t really notice him. He’s just… There. Catherine Zeta-Jones is also fine but for some reason I felt that she wasn’t quite right for the role – I’d have maybe liked to have seen a different actress play that role. Not sure who – not thought about it that much.

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I have to make a mention of the music in this movie. I thought the score was really good, as is always the case with Thomas Newman. I think Thomas Newman scores are amazing and think he doesn’t get the credit he deserves – I plan on doing a post dedicated to him at some point.

I’m not one for ever noticing symbolism in movies (I leave that to clever people to notice & then write about). I’m sure there’s plenty going on in Side Effects. Dunno! But I kept noticing a pair of scissors always fairly prominently displayed on every desk you see in the movie. Maybe someone smart can explain that one to me – I’m too lazy. 😉 But it did make me think of Dial M For Murder – a great Hitchcock film. I did think Side Effects had a Dial M For Murder vibe to it (and definitely Vertigo. And maybe a hint of Rear Window). I’ll just think of it as a nod to the master of suspense. Nothing beats Hitchcock. 🙂

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Side Effects is obviously not as good as classic Hitchcock but at least it tries. And it comes a lot closer than most current psychological thrillers. It was a thrilling ride and one I definitely recommend if this genre is your type of thing.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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