Film Reviews

SIDE EFFECTS

By • Feb 10th, 2013 •

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SODERBERGH’S FINALE
…and a hard pill to swallow

Hyped as his last film, the famed award-winning director of such noted features as SEX, LIES AND VIDEOTAPE – ERIN BROCKOVICH – TRAFFIC – recently said he’s hanging up his hat and retiring. Too bad, because he’s going out (to quote from T.S. Eliot’s poem The Hollow Men) “not with a bang but a whimper.”

Its theme is the side effects of depression, and I’m afraid that’s what it left me with.

Film opens with a shot of a bloody floor, followed by the caption “3 months earlier” — when we’re taken back to square one: to see Emily (Rooney Mara of GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO) as she falls into a major funk after her rich husband Martin (Channing Tatum), a Wall Streeter, is sent to prison for 4 years for insider trading. It blows her mind.

And she eventually blows his (not a spoiler) though she has no recollection of the dastardly deed. How come? Before and after, her two shrinks, Jude Law and Catherine Zeta-Jones, have collectively doused her with enough medications to sink the Titanic, trying to keep her from being hospitalized permanently. But to the authorities, a key doubt remains: either she’s a murderer or a victim of medical maltreatment.

Mara’s fine in her mindless role. Ditto Law, credible as Dr. Jonathan Banks, a psychiatrist whose personal and professional life is put at risk. Conversely, Zeta-Jones’ slyly wily Dr. Victoria Siebert, with hair tightly pulled back and makeup akin to a vampire’s, seems to walk around like the living dead—though out for money, not blood. And as we learn, (no spoiler here either) she’s in cahoots with a gazillion drug companies for their paybacks for plying patients with piles of pills (AKA insider trading of another kind).

Basically, with a banal screenplay by Scott Z. Burns (CONTAGION, THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM) filled with a shopping list of anti-depressant drugs, that’s the plot: the devious manipulations by some major pharmaceuticals to make a mint. No matter that none are specifically mentioned, it’s a sure bet the RX firms aren’t going to like this movie one mili-dose. Neither did I.

Bottom Line: An injection of chloroform.

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