“Side Effects” is a newly released original whodunit with a recognizable cast.
The movie opened on Feb. 9 and only managed to make $10 million in its opening weekend despite being praised by critics.
I was excited to see this movie after noticing the “certified fresh” rating on my favorite pessimistic movie critic site, Rotten Tomatoes. I also wanted to see Channing Tatum in a non-stripper based film. Despite the fact that I had no idea what the movie was about specifically, the movie trailers give nothing away, so it seemed like it would at least keep my attention.
Rooney Mara, probably most famous for “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” plays Emily, a 28-year-old woman whose husband, Tatum, was just released from prison for insider trading.
After his release, Emily sinks back into a depression that apparently also plagued her while her husband was in prison. She appears to be suicidal and begins to see a psychiatrist played by Jude Law. He prescribes to her a new medication recommended by her previous doctor, played by Catherine Zeta Jones, with severe side effects. Patients who take the medication sleepwalk and have no recollection of what they have done.
The first half of the film is intriguing and hazy but not in a boring way. The film’s dream-like quality allows for the plot to build. Mara plays the wife as the wounded bird character convincingly in the beginning and the audience cannot help but feel bad for the tiny depressed women. Her acting deters any of the plot twists from being prematurely evident.
Jude Law begins as a caricature of a British doctor. He dresses fancy and his accent is almost too ridiculously proper. He nods and takes notes at the appropriate times and is not very original. However, as the plot picks up and his character begins to unravel he proves his acting ability. Despite the very obvious hints his paranoia is growing; his sudden sloppy wardrobe, beer drinking and the appearance that he forgot to shave, he starts to come unhinged convincingly.
Perhaps the most unforgiving role in the movie unfortunately was Tatum as the husband. The poor guy just seems so happy and unassuming. He acted the part well with what he was given, which doesn’t seem to be much.
Another character worth mentioning who also is given the short end of the stick in the film is his mother played by Anne Dowd. She played the character in such a way that it is hard not to just feel bad for her. Her son goes to prison, she doesn’t get enough screen time and her name is last on the film credits on IMDB.com.
Catherine Zeta Jones comes into play in the second half of the film, which I call “Psychiatrist versus Psychiatrist” in which she actually hits Jude Law over the head with a brief case. Her acting is almost satirical for a good portion of the film with her voice never anything but seductive. However, like Jude Law, she eventually loses the overly cheesy voice and begins to give her character depth.
The film is relatively original and does include a degree of plot twists to keep the audience on their toes. However, some of the acting is off key but is redeemed toward the end.