Sunday 10 February 2013

Side Effects

Bullseyes:  ③ (out of 5)
Warning:  The movie may cause headaches, nausea and diarrhea.  Consult a qualified movie reviewer before seeing it.
That’s not true.  I was just trying to be clever.
Side Effects is actually a taut little thriller - not too clever – you don’t need a Sixth Sense to reason out the riddle.  And not too bland either.  It’s just the right dose of mental stimulation for a lazy Sunday afternoon.
The movie centers around a female psychiatric patient played by Rooney Mara.  You know her - she’s the chick from the Dragon Tattoo movies.  Not that I knew that when I was watching.  I almost went mad trying to figure it out. 
Where have I seen her before…?!  Arg! 
Rooney takes the meds prescribed by Jude Law, does something bad (no spoilers here!) then blames it on the side effects. 
Nice!  I wonder if that would work for me whenever I stay out too late or get caught ogling…
“It’s the meds Susie the meds!”
We spend the rest of the movie trying to unweave the not so sticky web.
The twists in Side Effects are no so tightly wound.  The plot uncoils smoothly, and unsurprisingly.  This will be a disappointment for smart arse moviephiles like the people who went ‘Yeah yeah’ when Bruce Willis’s wedding band rolled along the floor at the end of The Sixth Sense.  But I was OK with that.  I’m not a genius.  I don’t want to have to take a 258 bit decryption key with me every time I go to watch a thriller.  An abacus will do just fine.
Jude Law is adequate in the undemanding role of the psychiatrist. Rooney Mara is endearing as the sleep walking psych patient.  And Catherine Zeta Jones is satisfyingly smarmy as the Psychiatric Consultant who keeps hovering around in the background. 
Why is she here?  Why does she keep cropping up?  What has she done…?!!
I have to confess I wouldn’t have bothered going to see this movie if there was anything else on.  But there isn’t.  Apparently early February is a dearth zone for good movies.  I’m not sure why.  Perhaps we’re all Oscared out?
One reason I wouldn’t have bought a ticket is the movie’s title. ‘Side Effects’ is about as bland a label as you can wrap round a bottle.  Why not choose:  ‘The Placebo Effect!’  ‘Drugged Up’. Or ‘Over Dosed!’?  Hey - at least they have some pazzazz!  I had the same titular trouble with the Ewan McGregor movie, ‘The Impossible’ - another title that tells you nothing and fails to draw you in.
My other disincentive was the director.  This may be Steven Soderbergh's last hurrah but why should I care?  I’m still suffering from 2011’s Contagion. There’s no cure for that.
Fortunately Side Effects won’t leave you feeling drowsy or unfulfilled.  It might be just the kick you need.  

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