The logline says a lot: “A young woman’s world unravels when a drug prescribed by her psychiatrist has unexpected side effects.”
Steven Soderbergh has said that Side Effects will be his last theatrically released film. Though I like it rather than love it, I hope this is not the end because his films usually engage me tend to either display a nice attention to craft and storytelling or attempt something more experimental in a way that he plays with the form. Generally, his films intrigue me.
For the first two-thirds of Side Effects, I was along for the ride and trying to figure out whether this would be a neo-noir thriller or more of a social issue take-down of big-pharma and the docs who pimp for the corporations.
Without answering that question for you, let me just say that the resolution of the film seems choppy and less clearly conceptualized and articulated than all that precedes it, which is why the film ends up feeling a little pat rather than satisfying for me.
I like the performances (Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Channing Tatum, and Catherine Zeta-Jones), the color choices in production design and costuming, and some of the other aesthetic choices visually. The subject matter deserves a serious treatment, and I hope that part of the narrative is not overshadowed by the movie itself.
Still, given the options out in theaters right now, this is the picture to see.