Cinema review: Side Effects

By Paddy von Behr

Ahead of Friday’s release, MM grabs a sneak-peak of Side Effects, a thought-provoking take on modern society’s confidence in prescription medicine, put together in unpredictable style by Steven Soderbergh.

The Ocean’s Eleven director is no stranger to an unexpected turn of events and the way Side Effects continues to unravel on itself is no surprise.

Jude Law teams up with Soderbergh once again – following sci-fi thriller Contagion – and takes centre stage in a role which appears to have been written for the London-born actor.

It is difficult to imagine Law failing to pull off the role of the suave, cock-sure Englishman – and his portrayal of Dr Jonathan Banks is no disappointment.

The Durham University-educated psychiatrist is charged with the care of Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara), whose husband recently completed a four-year prison sentence for insider trading.

Following Mara’s break-out role in David Fincher’s adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, she impresses once again and continues her rise to Hollywood’s upper-echelons.

Emily has suffered from depression for a number of years and, following husband Martin’s (Channing Tatum) release, she spirals out of control.

Dr Banks can’t settle on a treatment course and opts for a more shoot-from-the-hip approach – the widely advertised, but little-tested drug Ablixa.

The medicine blows away all the tried-and-tested methods but its side effects, many of which had been swept under the rug, begin to take hold.

And, following an unexpected death and the resulting media circus, Dr Banks is thrust from the role of calming influence to maverick detective.

Ghosts from his past return, vultures circle and blame centres on the doctor.

Patients, colleagues and family disappear from his life one by one, as Banks is determined to get to the bottom of how his profession landed him in a legal shitstorm.

Some astute detective work – once the professionals have written off the case – and plenty of perseverance allow the doctor to get to the bottom of events.

And, in a twist you may have guessed – perhaps even hoped for – but probably never expected, good old-fashioned English charm pulls through.

Side Effects won’t leave you bewildered and gasping for air – it is not quite The Usual Suspects – but it is more than its money’s worth.

Law and Mara shine throughout, while Catherine Zeta-Jones puts in an enticing performance as Dr Banks’ professional foil – well worth a watch.

In cinemas nationwide from March 8. MM watched Side Effects at The Odeon, The Printworks, Manchester. Visit here for tickets.

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