Acknowledging that this movie has been out in the theatres since early this year and likely for a while now on DVD, I did want to take the time to review it because a) in broad terms the topic of this film is within my career bailiwick, b) friends keep asking “if it was good” and, c) it actually was decent enough to take the time to blog about.
Side Effects follows a supremely depressed woman through her action of a horrendous crime and the resultant trial and punishment as it’s questioned if she was to blame or the pharmaceuticals she was prescribed with. Trying to be “relevant” as America’s culture of “pop a pill and you’ll feel better” shifts less from this medical model towards a more pure and vegan mindset that altering chemicals won’t lead to anything but trouble, this psychological mystery has enough twists and turns to keep it interesting but isn’t ever brilliant enough to make you REALLY want to recommend it to someone else. Starring some huge names including: Jude Law, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Channing Tatum and the maudlin Rooney Mara as its lead, there is no lack of star power and sex appeal… just a lack of a uniquely original script.
Side Effects- without spoiling anything, as the “mystery” here is really the only reason to watch it- is a bit painful to watch as the “protagonist” (if you can call Jude Law that because most of the time he’s whimpering and yelling at the sky) is such an aggressive whiner that you almost want him to fail by the end of it. Mostly, the only person you root for is the recently-released from jail stud Tatum (no, it has nothing to do with the fact that he’s hot… mostly) as he attempts to get his life back together. Zeta-Jones could have been played by any B-List actress to the same effect and they probably could have saved a lot of money on staffing budget and they could have spent a bit more time developing a more realistic script than what they would I’m sure argue was an “interesting” one.
Here’s my two cents: watch it if you like movies about the law system, about the effects of drugs on peoples’ mental state and if you’re amused by simple mysteries. Nothing here is revolutionary. The acting is well done but not worth two hours of your life if that’s your sole motivation for watching it. And sorry, before you ask, Tatum spends MOST of his screen time with his shirt on. Don’t get too excited, but do comment what you thought of it below!