Monday, 11 March 2013



Always Read The Label.

Starring: Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Catherine Zeta-Jones & Channing Tatum. Director: Steven Soderbergh.

If this is director Steven Soderbergh's swan song then the one time movie making signet is really showing growth. The dynamic director that defined the age of uncensored drug use for Hollywood with 'Traffic' and redefined Rat Pack cool with George Clooney and Brad Pitt with the 'Oceans' series really has wrote the right prescription of late. Without any ghosts or ghouls, monsters under the bed, or people running up the stairs Soderbergh gave us the scariest film ever with the clinical, could happen, wildfire spreading virus, epic epidemic 'Contagion'. Then last year the ever versatile movie chairman pulled another rabbit out the hat, directing a great film about male strippers that everyone could enjoy. After his ace in the hole 'Magic Mike', Steve re-unites with breakout, coming of age star Channing Tatum, 'Contagion's' Jude Law, Catherine Zeta Jones and Rooney Mara for another clinical tale, close to home in 'Side Effects'.

Consult your director on this one because there's chemistry here. Rooney Mara stars as a woman who is battling depression following her husbands (Channing Tatum) return home from a bid in prison for insider trading. She is prescribed a new drug from her psychiatrist Jude Law with some consultation from her former doctor Catherine Zeta-Jones and thus as the 'bard once said "lies the rum", or the Hitchcock like substance abuse side effects and conflicts in this one. A movie shot in clinical, cold, dramatic Michael Mann style digital colors for a tense pharmaceutical perspective that induces as much paranoia as 'Contagion' as the abuse of 'Traffic' is taken to the inner homes. A safe sanctuary this is not.

This taught thriller does more with words then it does with action. There are scenes so tight, simmering at dialogues boiling point that you think these characters will literally jump over the table and rip each other apart. Still in an social networking age where scathing words do more than sticks and stones, the hard action is done taking personal shots rather then ones with guns. So much so that a violent car crash into a wall that is orchestrated so well pales in comparison to 'Side Effects' other twists and turns. So much so that the movie go-to city of New York is merely a beautiful backdrop, not a bold boast like most Hollywood affairs. What results in a gripping first two acts in a skin crawling look at the world of medicated mental health. This is not for the faint hearted...or more compassionate.

After inking her reputation with 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo' Rooney Mara yet again shows that perplexing and fascinating side of her characters, the intrigue rises as the bar of her level of acting does. Former leading lady Zeta-Jones is also on form, showing this is truly her month with her thriller with Mark Wahlberg and Russell Crowe 'Broken City' also twisting through the box offices. Former hulking hearthrob Channing Tatum continues to get better and better and more convincing as the next top actor with each performance. Although the pressers read 'Academy Nominated' Jude Law, Rooney Mara and Catherine Zeta-Jones, the award ignored Tatum shows he is in a league of his own with a skill set of subtly and sincerity here that has shades of his cool cameo in 'Public Enemies'.

As we move into the final act however it is clear this is Jude Law's film as his accredited acting shines through. His character falling apart keeps this film together and the man who's everclear 'Mr. Napkin Head' popularity has been on the rise ever since he played Holmes to RDJ's 'Sherlock Holmes', continues to grow as he puts this plot under the bowler hat and pipe microscope of his own investigations. With that being said however it's in this third act that this movie begins to show its own side effects causing drowsiness, headaches and some in your seat discomfort. Instead of having a struggling long tone like top detective thriller 'Zodiac' this relatively average run-time film feels long winded thus knocking the wind out of it's sails somewhat, losing some made up ground. There's a moral message in all of this but as some of the central characters become callous it's hard to grasp like the gripping opening. Still 'Side Effects', does the job with a good treatment it's just how you take it. This film and it's themes will effect different people in different ways. It all depends on your diagnosis. TIM DAVID HARVEY.