Maybe not the best movie to watch if you are coming out of a major depressive episode but hey we all take chances. But this movie, you need to go see. Side Effects is a biting commentary on the anti-depressant pharmaceutical industry, wrapped around a really intriguing psychological thriller. It’s smart but not so smart that you can’t figure out what’s going on if you look close enough.
Rooney Mara stars as Emily Taylor, a woman who had mental health issues in the past. The recent release of her husband Martin (Channing Tatum) from jail seems to have brought them back to the surface. Unable to just push them down, in a moment of desperation she drives her car into a wall. Surviving with minimal injury she meets Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law) who is assigned to evaluate her mental health before her release from the hospital.
After agreeing to therapy sessions he allows her to leave. He prescribes her an anti-depressant to deal with her emotional state. The first one doesn’t work but instead causes her nausea and reduced sex drive putting a further strain on her relationship. After several changes of medication she is finally put on the newest miracle drug Abraxia. Which at first seems to work but has unexpected side effects that have far reaching and serious ramifications.
Then begins the blame game. Who’s at fault, Dr. Banks for prescribing it and refilling the prescription even after the side effects become apparent, Emily for continuing to take them, or Abraxia for all their advertisements luring people into the belief of a miracle?
This movie was hard for me to watch. Had it not changed course partway through I may have had to walk out. Not because it was bad mind you, it’s just if you have ever had to navigate the prescription minefield of treating depression its very easy to identify with the main character. Add to it the glad handing and pandering of pharmaceutical companies to get their product down the public’s throat, it will make you angry.
Rooney Mara and Jude Law are a good balance against each other in this movie with Law’s performance being just a bit better. However seeing Mara in this almost makes me want to watch the american version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. She’s very believable through all of Emily’s different moods. Catherine Zeta-Jones is also very good as the Dr. Siebert. I’m used to her just being background pretty, nice to see she can actually act.
This is one of those movies that probably will make a lot of money in the DVD rental market once people realize how good it is.