Why I almost liked SIDE EFFECTS


Side Effects the movie, US cartel of pharmaceutical corporations build an army of psychotic drug addled zombies, ready to murder with a prescription note as an hall pass. Only to find out it’s all a ploy for the lazy psycho to ply their trade of destruction and hatred to bring down anyone near.

SIDE EFFECTS is an interesting attempt at creating the inner world of pharmaceutical manipulation of our medical system and what could be the systematic attempt to control the population through prescribed drugs for either money gains or power.

Yet the main unraveling thread is everyone cutting themselves on the edge of the law in desperation to survive a modern world so contrived that the meaning of an honest days work is a concept long forgotten. Replaced by the anxiety of following the quickly vanishing dollar.

Rooney Mara is Emily the disheveled wife of inside trader Channing Tatum. A stock broken shell of a man. After a mythic romance of riches and marriage, Emily’s veil of the good life is torn when (Tatum) Martin Taylor is rudely carted off to prison. Emily’s fall from rags to riches is a harsh reality for her when forced to work and a small apartment after living the idle life in beach mansions.


Emily quiet desperation seeps into the film and Sodenberg uses some unusual camera or post techniques to add more blur to his shots. Rendering some scenes almost Instagramish, with inappropriate blurs and intense colors. Perhaps effective in creating a somber drug addled feeling to scenes which I found distracting and instead of drawing me into the film I was distracted by it.

Despite the added filtration process, the sense of Emily’s depressing descent is well executed. Mara truly creates a brilliant display of restraint in acting yet still emotionally alive and poignant. When Martin is finally released from prison 4 years later, Emily seems sombre and distant, unable to cope with dinner meetings, her life, or her relationship with Martin.

Martin seem anxious to get back on the fast track to recoup their past wealth, and his promises look hopeful yet still Emily is strangely disconnected. Her reaction to his return and the potential of a wealthy lifestyle doesn’t raise her spirits.

Click on your car seat belt and crash your car straight into a brick wall is Emily’s answer to the nebulous issues she is struggling with. Airbags pillow her desperation heralding her drug treatment designed to cushion her from all the crashes in her life.

(Jude Law), Jonathon Banks is the psychiatrist hospital drug dispenser aided by good intentions and multiple money problems. His eyes spell out examination and concern with money as a guiding force. The bags under his eyes spell out a big mortgage and filed up credit cards. everyone is living outside the guidelines.

So he is easily swayed from admitting Emily into a psych ward for gassing her car into a parking lot brick wall for the promise of regular patient visits and some antidepressants. Modern medical up sells creates a twinkle in his eye and Emily happily agrees telling Banks she could use the structure in her life.

It’s a nod of the head from both and the prescription treadmill runs once more.

Emily’s initial appointments with Banks seem hopeful with a quick Zoloft addiction setup. Though Emily doesn’t seem to respond well to treatment and further problems ensue, but Emily has the solution, Ablixa. No, it’s not a planet recently discovered, it’s the newest fad miracle in drugs equipped with glossy commercials and ads promises a golden life and relief from all mental anxiety. It works for her friends and Emily just wants to be ok, take a pill and find relief from the bleak storm of depression and chasing the dollar.

Banks is only too happy to write out the script, often reciting poetically that drugs just make you, more you. Let you get out of the way and be you, the happy you, the sleepwalking you.

Yes, Ablixa has a few great SIDE EFFECTS, sex and sleepwalking. Now who doesn’t want that kind of adventure in their lives. After sweaty sheet soaking, middle of the night table settings for three, for Martin, Emily and perhaps a guest?

So why stop, the sex scene is great and Emily is seemingly happier. Bring on the drugs.

The film has become compelling, Emily cleans the house and makes up a delightful dinner table while she sleeps. I was drawn into the sociopolitical statement being made of how our lives are distorted by these happy drugs and how we are so willing to indulge rather than deal with the difficult issues and conflicts of our modern lives matching our imagined hopes.

When Emily starts pulling out knives and cutting red bell peppers ala Hitchcock. You immediately know red hot bloody action will follow. In her sleep induced state, will her true desire to be free of her reckless husband surface and the red, red vino flow.

Stab, stab, stab hacks happily sleeping Emily, unaware of each hack, dropping her husband to the ground and death.

But is she unaware? Is she mentally deranged, is she suffering from depression, was she taking pills causing her to sleepwalk and murder her husband.

Everyone is walking a tightline between law and crime, the moral line is shaded when money and survival become more relevant.

Emily pleads insanity and uses Banks in her defense and he makes attempts to justify his actions and grapples with himself and his morals over what has happened and what is his fault in the murder of an innocent man.

(Zeta-Jones) Dr. Victoria Siebert is Emily’s past head shrinker, and she keeps reappearing with thick framed glasses and a stoic stuck up attitude as contrived as her glasses, pin shaped skirts and tight lipped smiles of disgust.

Banks life and practice quickly fall apart under allegations of poor judgement and the fear  his patients begin to feel as he attempts to carry on as usual prescribing drugs. All the turmoil makes Banks very defensive and he starts to see contradictions in Emily’s behavior as any decent shrink would.

Why would Emily wear a seatbelt and drive her car into a wall if she was trying to kill herself. It’s a small step of doubt but it leads to an avalanche of discovery and Banks runs after it with hopes of saving his professional career.

Dr. Victoria Siebert and Banks glare at each other until it becomes obvious, there’s a conspiracy going on, it’s dueling shrinks trying to out think each other.

Emily wasn’t sick, wasn’t mentally disturbed, she wasn’t taking drugs.

Suddenly the film rears a huge swing into a crime thriller, soft blurs almost abandoned, the pharmaceutical drug problems are in the rear view mirror.

Boom, it’s a lesbian love affair, Zeta the starched iron mistress softens as Emily manipulates her with thighs and lips seeking solace. It isn’t believable, Zeta’s face is still hard when the glasses come off, is Emily manipulating Siebert? Why is she suddenly a lesbian, and her motives?

I know the new trend in movies is the 3rd act swing around by introducing a new element barely hinted at during the hour and a half. As in LOOPER when a telekinetic child goes wild and tilts cars into the air.

SIDE EFFECTS throws lesbians into the story arc and the entire strain of drug induced mental illness and it’s social ramifications are out of the bottle spilling on the floor with half naked lesbian lovers, planning to make millions.

All they have to do is find some half witted Doctor willing run the drug prescription course and soon the girls will be rolling in money with a dead husband, and a shocked dethroned shrink fading into old memories replaced by new orgasms.

Wait a minute, isn’t murder something reserved for the insane? So Emily is even more crazy than initially supposed, more crazy than depressed. She and her Doctor lover are psychopathic killers, murders. Killers without morals or empathy, who purposely go about killing Emily’s husband without regret but with cold calculating precision.

What I asked myself was why when I found out Emily was only a murderer and not depressed or on bizarre pills, did I think she wasn’t sick.

Don’t you have to be insane to kill? Have I seen so many movies filled with murder that it seems normal and I am disappointed when Emily isn’t a depressed wreak who kills while sleep walking?

Maybe it’s because when Emily was really sick and sleepwalking it was against her will and she was the victim also. To become just another killer for money reduced the sociopolitical statement made by the film and it became less than it’s potential to speak of a real problem in America.

Lesbian lovers kill husband for Wallstreet money is just another cheap paperback headline for the tabloids.

Still I almost liked SIDE EFFECTS.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s