Side Effects: Offers intrigue,suspicion and questions morality

by Aine Mc Keown

side effects rooney maraIt is a film about psychology, criminals and human beings. It is deception, vengeance, medicated and gripping. With all aspect of the plot tightly knitted together, it is impossible to talk about any aspect without giving the plot away. It is a film to be enjoyed without knowing anything. This psychological chase for answers is better left unspoiled by examples of fantastic plot twists or the fine acting skills of its cast. However I can say the following.

Rooney Mara gives a fantastic performance of a young woman fighting clinical depression. In her first lead role since her Oscar nominated turn in ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’, she is enthralling for the most part and if at any point seems unbelievable it is because she is so young looking it is hard to believe she is old enough to be her characters  age.

Jude Law proves why he should not be forgotten for roles such as this in films such as this. Seen most memorably in recent years in Guy Pearce’s take on Sherlock Holmes, we may have forgotten the man who gave excellent performances in ‘The Talented Mr Ripley’ and ‘A.I’. His obvious capabilities are highlighted again in this film as he portrays a man with such drive and fierce passion.

Channing Tatum as a reformed white collar criminal does not exactly draw parallels to Michael Douglas’s turn in Oliver Stones ‘Wall Street’ and ‘Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps’. We are more inclined to affiliate him with his caring and supportive characters in ‘The Vow’, ‘Dear John’ and ’21 Jump Street’, (serious bromance territory). However, this does not take away from the fact that the brilliant Chan Tates can fit in quite believably in a film by Steven Soderberg with a bit more substance than ‘Magic Mike’, with a cast such as this.

My only real issue for this film comes with Catherine Zeta-jones. Yes, she has won a an Academy Award, and while she is not bad in this film, in fact she gives a better performance than normal, the role for the most part is not necessarily demanding and could be done by a lesser actor. Her age gives credibility to her character, (Dr Victoria Siebert) who treated Emily Taylor (Mara) before this film’s time frame. Her dulcet, gentle tones mixed with her ability to turn on the fiery attitude at the flick of a switch, gives credence to the character. It’s hard to disassociate her from the role of ‘lip-pouting, always passionate, impervious to anyone’s opinion of her’ woman. She does not take away from the film and despite all this I do like her in it. Exciting she is not, and therefore somewhat forgettable, which is something she should not be.

Overall this film offers intrigue, suspicion, darkness, and questions of morality. It is an enthralling watch and references to the effect of the economic climate on people and the ridiculous money to be made from pharmaceuticals, grounds the film in a current context. While I won’t rush out to buy it on DVD now that I know what happens, I would re-watch it in the future. It is in no way forgettable and reminds us of the great young talent of Rooney Mara and the older talent of Jude Law. Definitely go see it if you enjoyed ‘Shutter Island’, ‘Black Swan’, and ‘The Machinist’.


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