In my opinion, you’re a victim of circumstances and biology.
– Psychiatrist Jonathan Banks to his patient Emily Taylor in Side Effects
Double Dhamaka for SI today!
Steven Soderbergh’s thriller Side Effects (2013) and a tall glass of ice-cold Sangria on the side.
Boy, a potent combination on a hot day! 😉
Over the last 18 months, I’ve immersed myself in action films, romances, super-hero drivel and a gazillion trashy films (thanks to my bizarre fixation with Indian movies).
But a good thriller has been a long time in coming my way.
Like with all fine thrillers, the joy of Side Effects lies in not being able to easily predict which way the movie is going.
Easy predictability is the biggest bane of Bollywood and Kollywood movies. You can safely predict with 85% confidence the meandering road an Indian movie usually takes toward its happy denouement.
It’s as if Indian filmmakers dread the mere mention of going down a path not well-trod.
Since the thriller genre is rara avis in Indian cinema, it’s hard to compare Side Effects to a desi film.
Side Effects is a classy thriller that takes viewers on an exciting, suspenseful ride thanks to solid writing (Scott Z.Burns), clever camera work and top-notch acting by Rooney Mara and Jude Law.
Emily Taylor’s (Rooney Mara) cup of joy overfloweth when her husband Martin Taylor (Channing Tatum) is released from prison. A once wealthy Wall Streeter, Martin has been in prison for four-years for insider trading.
With Martin back, you’d think happy days are back again in the Taylor family!
Au contraire, we see Emily driving her car fast into a brick wall in a suicide attempt.
Depression, an old enemy, is stalking Emily again.
Her psychiatrist Dr.Jonathan Banks (Jude Law) then prescribes Ablixa, a medication that, as is the case with most modern drugs, comes with a long list of side effects.
Before long, there’s a horrific crime.
Blood on the floor (by the way that’s how the movie begins before going back three months).
A bloody crime that besides the severe impact on the victim and the perpetrator also snares the psychiatrist Dr.Banks in its web sending his life spiraling out of control.
Who’s to Blame?
Is it the drug Ablixa?
Did the psychiatrist Banks err in not being aware of all the side effects of the drug?
What game is Emily’s previous psychiatrist Dr Victoria Siebert playing? (Until the credits, I had no idea Victoria was Catherine Zeta-Jones. Unrecognizable in glasses and weird makeup.)
At times, I was even tempted to think Dr.Banks was going crazy as his life unravels, career and family life hit hard.
Above all, where does Emily fit into the crime?
I can assure you that nothing is what it seems on the surface in this remarkable thriller.
Side Effects is available on DVD at Netflix. Add it to your queue today.