Kind of a modern version of Ed Norton and Richard Gere’s Primal Fear. The twist is not as well developed, though.
I liked this one more when I thought the mystery is whether or not Jude Law’s Jonathon Banks had committed malpractice in the way he treats Rooney Mara’s Emily Taylor. Once the twist happens and I realized the mystery is something else entirely, the film loses steam for me.
Then it gets worse. The conspiracy was . . . far fetched. That it would fool anyone seems . . . unlikely. Director Steven Soderbergh might have had a social commentary feature about the pharmaceutical industry, like he hints he’s going to do, but instead Soderbergh gives us an odd conspiracy with twisted bad guys and a whole-hearted victim.
Which is not to say the picture is precisely bad. It isn’t. It is even pretty solid. All of the actors are good or excellent. Law stands out. But not as much as Mara. She is fantastic, capturing the shifts in character performance perfectly, going from lonely, depressed, isolated, etc to manipulative and controlling with ease. Unlike Weisz in Oz she makes this shift feel both natural and normal, like it is, in fact, the same person. Very strong performance.
The direction, as always with Soderbergh, is top-notch.
I enjoyed Side Effects, but I think it could have been better if the second half plot had been a bit less cookie cutter.