Steven Soderbergh is back, this time with the tale of an evil pharmaceutical company whose evil drug has evil side-effects—or is it?
Well, actually, it isn’t, and what it is way more entertaining as a result.
Now, like Haywire, Contagion and even Magic Mike, this is a modest production. I’m sure the budget predominantly went to Jude Law, no-longer-dragon-tattooed Rooney Mara and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Oh, and Magic Mike himself, Channing Tatum.
The story begins with Tatum, former securities trader or some money-type deal, getting out of jail (for some money-type crime) and starting his life anew with his wife (Mara). Mara has anxieties and difficulty sleeping, however, and after many failed attempts, ends up on an Ambien-like drug.
Enter the titular “Side Effects”, as Mara behaves in increasingly bizarre ways, with her sleep/wake state being in question.
I don’t want to reveal too much about it because I really enjoyed the twists and turns, which start pretty early on. This is more of a psychological thriller than I expected. (I didn’t even know going in who the main character was going to be, given that all four leads are on the poster.)
All-in-all, pretty low-key, as Soderbergh is wont to be, without a lot of melodrama. The acting is serviceable. Jude Law is really growing on me, between this and Anna Karenina, and he shines in these low-key roles. He can convey a lot of emotions without needing to go big.
Tatum is fine; I liked Mara better in this than in Dragon Tattoo; and Zeta-Jones I can’t really judge rationally. She’s sort of imprinted on my brain from that five-year-window from Zorro to Intolerable Cruelty, and that’s probably where she’ll remain.
You know who looked really good? Polly Draper (best known for “30-something”). She has a small role as Mara’s boss. Kind of nice to see someone you haven’t seen for 20 years pop up looking good.
Anyway, psychological mind-twisting, with overall a kind of “Law and Order” feel. (Not that it’s about cops and lawyers, just the way the story unfolds reminded me of an early L&O.) We liked it, even if we weren’t talking about it for days afterward.