Friday, February 8

REVIEW: Side Effects

Directed by Steven Soderbergh
2013 Drama
1 hour 46 minutes
From Open Road

Jude Law
Rooney Mara
Catherine Zeta-Jones
Channing Tatum
Vinessa Shaw

Permit me a brief rant.  I just love doctors these days.  After being kept waiting longer than my patience will permit, both in the outer office and then the inner one, the doctor, any doctor, is often not sure what is wrong with me but as luck would have it, he knows just the right pill for me to take.  I know he doesn't check to see if it's compatible with other pills I may take.

Then there are these charming TV commercials pitching one of any number of drugs for your condition and then you get to hear the many possible side effects.  They are usually plentiful anymore and often have some big stuff that might give you pause... hair loss, memory loss, constant feeling of bugs crawling inside you... and if that doesn't get your attention, then how about blindness or death?

Okay, there you are.  You thought it was just a simple rant but did you suspect I was giving you the plot of the film?  Because I am... um, I did. 

As most of you know, I would not enter my local movie palace on a snowy February morning with much hope.  You know this is when they release the dogs and if this is not quite that, you might keep some Kibbles and Bits handy just the same.

For those reviewers who just tell you all about the film, from start to finish, it would be a shame in this case.  The flip side is it's not easy to write a review and say next to nothing as needs to be done here.  Let's say this to get you started.  Rooney Mara and Channing Tatum are married and she is antsy and depressed over his getting home from a prison stretch for insider trading.  She had been seeing a shrink, Catherine Zeta-Jones, whom she has cast aside to begin treating with another shrink, Jude Law.  So far, so good, eh?  Law tries Mara out on a number of medications.  She likes the last one the best but it also produces some, shall we say, really weird side effects.  What those are and therefore how this story further unfolds, well, you will just have to see the film yourself.  Or not.  Most will be not.

The film has a nice New York look to it and not to be just a downer here, but c'mon, we expect our New York locations in 2013 to be hot.  It also has a fabulous musical score by Thomas Newman that adds to, no heightens, every single scene in the film.  And again, to be fair, it starts off well enough.  As we are being introduced to the characters, we are interested in seeing where this is going to go.

So what happened?  Dunno.  Someone should tell me when you know.  I can only say it gets muddled and confusing and takes off in so many directions that I think I have taken something that's given me side effects.   So many psychological thrillers chart the themselves on destinations that are imposible to meet and wind deliriously out of control, stretching credibility beyond the point of no return.  Such is the case here.

Steven Soderbergh has said this is the last theatrical film he will direct.  After this and Magic Mike, one is tempted to say good.  We expect more of you.  You're a big deal director and I would love to see big deal projects, but if you leave, I shall stay tuned to see what's in store for you in some other medium.  He and Michael Douglas and Matt Damon have completed some time ago the Liberace story for television and I suspect I will catch a glimpse.

Law, Tatum and Zeta-Jones have all worked for the director before and maybe that was the appeal of another project together.  This story is really about Mara but the vote's not in on her for me.  I haven't thrown in the towel yet but this role and the one in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo certainly show me this is one odd little actress.  Ok, maybe she's really got it all together but just chooses some mighty peculiar roles. 

Movies annoy me when they lure me in with the promise of a certain star (and that's my main reason for attending) and then the character is killed off early in the proceedings.  That happened here and I just want to hurl my drink at the screen.

So hey, if none of this keeps you from going to see Side Effects, I say good.  We all don't feel the same about much of anything and it's how it should be.  If you like it, if you really, really like it, write and tell me so.  I'd be happy to change my prescription and maybe I'll see what you do.

Say Goodbye to Lt. Cable

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