Side Effects (Dir. S. Soderbergh), unfortunately, feels like nothing more than that – an annoying, added portion of something you think may be good.
If you have watched Michael Clayton or The Constant Gardener, then you will be extremely let down by Side Effects, which struggles to live up to the aforementioned films level of ingenuity.
The substantially basic narrative is barely aided by a solid performance from Jude Law, playing the films protagonist, whilst the rest of the cast seem to be taking a medication that induces ‘wooden performances’. The films lead lady, Emily Taylor (played by Rooney Mara), is nothing more than a two dimensional role, even though the character (as do many other characters in the movie) has so much more room for manoeuvre but is let down by a poor narrative.
Side Effects gives the audience no emotional connection whatsoever to any character in the film. Let’s use The Constant Gardener as an example. With a similar plot, The Constant Gardener delivers a level of emotion because the films hero, Ralph Fiennes, is fighting to reveal a pharmaceutical companies exploitation of millions of Africans, and trying to stop drug testing that is killing them; he is fighting a good cause, and he is a likeable character. In Side Effects, Dr. Banks (Jude Law) is struggling to prove that Taylor did indeed consciously kill her own husband, and has framed it all on the drugs she was taking. As the film whirlwinds through his very brief, home made investigation, we are given tiny spits of scenes where the film strains to give some emotionality to the characters, but, instead, just leaves you frustrated. It doesn’t focus on how Banks has hit rock bottom in his life, losing everything, but instead, show you what the audience has already worked out half an hour before, that she murdered her husband for money.
Banks is a likeable character, but there is nothing more to him than that, he is just ‘Okay’. What was needed was for more time to be spent focusing on him, instead of on Taylor (which is what the first half of the film does).
If the film had added an element of emotion into the story line, there might have been some connection, which could have lead to this film getting near a level of smart. But, unfortunately, it has wasted what could have been an interesting plot and leaves you with nearly two hours lost forever and £3.80 shy.