Monday, 13 May 2013

Film Review: "Side Effects" (2013).

"One pill can change your life." Side Effects does exactly that. This psychological thriller film directed by Steven Soderbergh from a screenplay written by Scott Z. Burns. The film concerns the ramifications of an event following a young woman being prescribed antidepressant drugs, in particular the fictional new drug Ablixa (alipazone). To promote the movie, a website for Ablixa was created, and Jude Law answered questions by email.

Up to the year 2005, there have been around 68 documented cases of homicidal sleepwalking. This was to become the subject and subtext for Scott Z. Burns' script. With the original title The Bitter Pill, this film was to be director Steven Soderbergh's last effort in the director's chair. For casting, Soderbergh originally considered casting Lindsay Lohan for the role of Emily and he auditioned her three times. However, producers felt that her ongoing legal issues would disrupt the production process. Afterwards, Emily Blunt, Olivia Wilde, Imogen Poots, Alice Eve, Amanda Seyfried and Michelle Williams were considered for the lead role. Then Blake Lively was cast, but the production company that was funding the movie dropped out after learning of her casting. She was eventually replaced by Rooney Mara, who dropped out of Zero Dark Thirty (2013). Justin Timberlake was considered for the role that went to Channing Tatum. The film reunites Catherine Zeta-Jones, Channing Tatum and Jude Law with Soderbergh, making it their third collaboration for the formers and the second collaboration for the latter. Soderbergh claimed that one his biggest influences making the movie was the work of Adrian Lyne, especially Fatal Attraction (1987). Principal photography started in April 2012 in New York City.

The film stars Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Channing Tatum. The cast gave riveting performances, each one displaying psychological depth and turns left, right and centre. Mara brings a particularly seductive complexity to the role and Zeta-Jones shines once again in her second Soderbergh role.

Soderbergh's intense study of the medical field yields an impressive cinematic work in Side Effects. This is a dead-serious film about medical complications, one that swallows with ridicule yet sustains its fundamental eeriness and gravity throughout. The intensity of previous Soderbergh films is in full force here. The film brings horror home to a substance that most grownup moviegoer actually take. The screws are tightened expertly in this suspenseful meller about a flipped-out drugee who makes life hell for the married man who medically advises her. Solid direction, thrilling set pieces, and a riveting performance from Rooney Mara. It's a bleak film, but an extremely watchable one. The entertainment value for this one is high. A pure film for adults, and it manages to walk a tightrope between reprehensible behavior and business as usual. An exceptionally well-written, well-acted and well-directed thriller that extends beyond the boundaries mainstream films typically set. Overall, it is a worthy final chapter to a great cinematic career.

Simon says Side Effects receives:

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