Side Effects

“I’m so glad that the movie timing earlier this week worked out the way it did. If I’d been stuck watching Identity Thief after Die Hard, it would have been a truly unfortunate day at the movies. However, seeing Side Effects instead made a world of difference.

I’m starting to notice a trend: the February drama that really grabs me. Examples include The Adjustment Bureau, We Need to Talk About Kevin, and Shutter Island. A dark and subversive piece that completely absorbs me, during a release period where I’ve been conditioned not to expect much. We can add Side Effects to that trend.

First of all, I would like to commend the trailer. It teased just enough, giving you as much mystery as it can, but stopping this close to spilling everything. It effectively conveys the vibe of the film and the intrigue, but doesn’t spoil the movie watching experience. It seems to have become all to common to give away everything in the trailer, and I’m incredibly grateful that they toed but didn’t cross that line here.

In this Steven Soderberg film, Rooney Mara plays a young woman who’s husband, Channing Tatum, has just been released from prison. She’s having difficulty coping, which presents itself as a very severe case of depression. She sees a psychiatrist, Jude Law, who puts her on a new medication. Then things happen. I loved following the whole mystery of it. I kept going back and for as to what was really going on. What I realized is a sign of a good mystery like this is when you’re so absorbed in the action, you don’t even realize that something is a clue or that an action may have further consequences. But when the significance of those details is revealed later, you know exactly what moment they’re talking about, and almost feel stupid for missing it (not that you would have been likely to catch on). THat’s what happened here. The pieces weren’t handed to you, but following along with the enigma was very plausible.

I will say that things may have wrapped up with a little too nice of a bow. As much as I appreciate closure, I think a little ambiguity would have gone a long way in this case. But that doesn’t diminish for me how much this was an incredible source of escapism. Mara was stunning. You can see a lot of a seemingly better adjusted Lizbeth Salander in this role, with the same quiet and fierce intensity. Jude Law was also impeccable. He was responsible for carrying much of the film, and he did it with such grace and earnestness. I love that man.

I really don’t want to go too much farther into detail, lest I spoil. Again, I’m so pleased with how little of the details have been revealed before seeing it, I hesitate to disrupt that balance. But certainly check this out if anything I have said grabs your curiosity.”

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