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Movie review: Side Effects

Jude Law makes up for otherwise forgettable acting in this psychological thriler

Photo Courtesy of Open Road Films

February 9, 2013 | 10:29 a.m. CST

Stephen Soderbergh claims he’s finished directing movies.

If he keeps good on his word, the celebrated creator of the Ocean’s series and Traffic stepped out in sour fashion with Side Effects.

Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara) is a young woman whose husband (Channing Tatum) is finishing a prison sentence for insider trading. His return rekindles a psychosis in Emily that has led her to seek treatment in the past. This time she seeks help from psychiatrist Jonathan Banks (Jude Law).

When Emily responds adversely to several types of medication and her case grows more complicated, Banks reaches out to Emily’s previous therapist, Victoria Siebert (Catherine Zeta-Jones).

The acting in Side Effects is largely forgettable. Even Mara and Zeta-Jones shared awkward, labored interactions when onscreen together.

The plot is propelled by cheap shocks and the general allure of the psychologically afflicted mind. When these diversions are pushed aside, the plot has little depth.

The film opens with a vague flash-forward, implying a violent climax. A little less than halfway through the movie, that moment is reached, but what appears to be a climax is actually a major plot twist, turning the film from psychological thriller to convoluted mystery.

One of the movie’s saving graces is Law’s performance as the conflicted Dr. Banks. As complications mount in his case with Emily, Banks’ personal life suffers. The most well-rounded character in the film, Banks seems to shoulder the under-performing cast and underdeveloped plot all by himself. Unfortunately, a stellar performance by Law was not enough to save the movie as a whole.

Vox Rating: V V

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