REVIEW: ‘Side Effects’ echoes classic Hitchcock films

By Jon Scales

“Side Effects,” a provocative and psychologically engaging film, reminded me of classic Hitchcock thrillers like “Rear Window” and “Dial ‘M’ for Murder.” But it brought those qualities  to modern times. “Side Effects” was directed by Steven Soderbergh (“Contagion,” “Magic Mike”) and is similar to his past films with its intimate and raw style, but the story managed to still be notably original.

Jon Scales (Photo by Jessi Emmert)

Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara) welcomes home her husband Martin (Channing Tatum) who is being released after serving two years in prison for insider trading. Emily endures depression and attempts suicide.

Instead of being admitted to an institution, Emily beseeches the help of psychiatrist Jonathan Banks (Jude Law). He prescribes an antidepressant drug, “Ablixa,” which causes Emily to commit a callous crime that sends her and Banks’ life into a downward spiral.

I couldn’t help but notice this small vendetta against the pharmaceutical industry. Like the classic thrillers of the 20th century, it was a creatively twisted plot that withheld some crucial information to the end.

The film’s casting was more interesting than the message of the film.

For a stylized thriller like “Side Effects,” Rooney Mara’s role in this film, emotional and vulnerable, was complete opposite from her iconic role as Lisbeth Salander in “Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.” Jude Law played a weighty role but handled it exceptionally Catherine Zeta-Jones and Channing Tatum, while questionable casting decisions, both performed well in their challenging roles.

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Overall, “Side Effects” was a very memorable film for its originality but also for its drawn structure from the classics.

I wouldn’t say its a must-see, as there are some very explicit scenes throughout the film. If you’re a longtime fan of Alfred Hitchcock though,  it’s worth a trip.

4/5 stars

Jonathan Scales is a sophomore film production major. This review reflects the view of the writer only.

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