TBT: Side Effects

In this episode of Throwback Thursday I’d like to discuss Side Effects, a movie I really liked, though it was far from perfect. Steven Soderbergh apparently stopped making movies, which is a shame considering he made Erin Brockovich, Ocean’s Eleven and Magic Mike. The director even won an Academy Award for Traffic. Now he stops being a director and his good bye movie is Side Effects. Though actually, Behind the Candelabra is his last movie, with Matt Damon. However, Side Effects did come out pretty late. Worth your time though, especially if you are familiair with the world of psychological care, which probably makes you more interested in psychological thrillers in general. This movie is interesting because antidepressants are everywhere and their side effects can be both annoying as precious.

In case you have no idea what mental healthcare is, don’t worry. In Side Effect you are served a (pretty dramatic) look into the world of pills, doctors and how the relationship between psychiatrist and client can work out. In case you are wondering if you can fake a test at the Pieter Baan Center (or any psych ward), please watch this flick.

Anyone that has ever taken Effexor, Prozac or Zoloft, knows what they can expect. You feel a bit zombie-ish, listless and you have to stay the heck away from alcohol. The upside is that all those horrible, dark emotions are toned down a bit. In Side Effects we follow the story of Emily (Rooney Mara, The Social Network), who is Martins wife (Martin, played by Channing Tatum, 21 Jump Street) and after four years she can finally get her husband out of prison. His time is up, but does that only count for jail or for life in general?

Though at first you might expect this flick to be about the rehabilitation of an ex-con, it is actually about Emily. She starts to look more sad, think darker thoughts and especially her suicide attempt by driving her car into a wall stands out. In other words, she needs therapy and doctor Banks will give it to her (played by Jude Law, Sherlock Holmes). He starts off with prescribing her some nice drugs, to ease the mental agony a bit.

Later we will see that this doctor has some interesting relationships himself, to be specific: with farmaceutical companies. This is not weird in the healthcare business, especially in America. The DSM, which is kinda like a bible slash dictionary which psychologists all over the world use to diagnose people, is also made by doctors that almost all have connections with farmaceutical companies.

I really love Jude Law in this movie, as his role is a strong one. At one point he speaks the very true quote: “I became a psychiatrist in America, because in Europe people think you are sick when you go into therapy. In America people assume you get better by doing so.” It is interesting to think about it, especially as the whole movie is full of prescriptions of antidepressants and other drugs. He is not always doing the right thing, especially towards the end, but you want him to do well, because of this odd, distant relationship you get with him.

As it is a psychological thriller, I won’t share too much about how the story goes, but there will be a lot of “what the heck is happening?!”-moments. It is key to pay close attention to the movie, cause in that perspective this movie is a lot like Arbitrage: lots of talking, which makes the chances of you missing something pretty big. Plus, this movie is worth your full attention: Soderbergh has a very cool way of filming, which is voyeuristic, but he knows how to make a beautiful, almost rhitmic play between story and the length of each scene.

Before my review ends, I’d like to point out that Catherine Zeta-Jones (Chicago) has a fascination part in the movie too, as she is the last psychiatrist of Emily. Unfortunately as an actress she is not very special, so I am happy that we mainly work with Emily and doctor Banks in this movie.

An excellent flick, but not a classic. It is hard to put my finger on why this movie is not one that you will remember. As it is a movie full of odd twists and turns, without being too shocking. It is not very touching, it is mostly a movie to show the strange things that might occur in US health care business. May be these are things that deep in your heart you kinda know about already, so you do not get influenced as much to be thinking about it days later.


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