Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, June 26, 2014


Jude Law in a tense moment
SIDE EFFECTS (2013). Director: Steven Soderbergh.

Emily (Rooney Mara) welcomes her husband, Martin (Channing Tatum) home from jail after his incarceration for insider trading, but the changes in her life depress her and cause her to attempt suicide. A sympathetic shrink named Dr. Banks (Jude Law of Alfie) prescribes a new drug recommended by Emily's previous analyst, Dr. Siebert (Catherine Zeta-Jones). When Emily apparently slaughters her husband while sleepwalking, it is not only the drug that is called into question, but Dr. Banks himself. As he finds his life unraveling, he uncovers disturbing information about Emily -- maybe she wasn't sleepwalking when she murdered her husband? Or is he clutching at straws? Side Effects is a twisty thriller, with a good idea and interesting sequences, but it's not that well done all told. One of the characters sort of comes off like an old-fashioned evil lesbian [perhaps for no other reason than to show some girl-on-girl action]. Jude Law and Mara give good performances, but the most impressive is Zeta-Jones [Ocean's Twelve], with Ann Dowd also making an impression as Martin's concerned mother. This modern version of the old Lauren Bacall thriller Shock Treatment is quite contrived but has a satisfying conclusion and a nice score from Thomas Newman.

Verdict: Always read the label. **1/2.

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