Film Review: Side Effects

Side Effects

Steven Soderbergh’s psychological thriller Side Effects is finely executed. The film is absorbing viewing.

Emily Taylor is a young woman living in New York. With her husband being released from prison, Emily is struggling to cope. She is prescribed medication by her psychiatrist, but the pills start to have unwanted side effects…

Released in cinemas before the majestic Behind the Candelabra, Side Effects shows a return to form for director Steven Soderbergh after the lacklustre Haywire and Magic Mike. Side Effects is absorbing, and keeps viewers on their toes.

Soderbergh’s film features a great narrative. Scott Z. Burns’ screenplay retains a sense of mystery. The film continually keeps the audience guessing as to which way the story will turn.

In the first thirty minutes or so, it seems as if the film will be something of a satire on the pharmaceutical industry. However as Side Effects develops, the emphasis shifts further on the story and the psychological element. The film still conveys the same message that seems to be set out in the first half of the film, but with a much meatier plot.

Pacing in the film is good. The characters are well developed, and seem authentic. Pyschiatrist Dr Jonathan Banks is particularly interesting. He functions as a multi-dimensional character in his own right, and not just a conduit for the audience to view proceedings.

The cinematography is great in Side Effects. The sense of ambiguity in the narrative is replicated in the choice of unusual angles. There is a feeling of the uncanny which permeates the film. The flashback sequences have a nice hazy quality to them.

Performances are good all round, especially Jude Law’s psychiatrist. It seems as if the role of Dr Victoria Siebert was made for Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Side Effects is a most satisfying film, which Soderbergh elevates above other recent psychological thrillers.

Side Effects is out on DVD and Blu-Ray from 29th July 2013.