Sunday, February 17, 2013
3 Thoughts on Side Effects
*Warning* *MAJOR Spoilers* *All of them* *Sorry*
1. It's amazing until the end - I was so happy watching this movie. Impressive twists and turns, adult themes, fascinating characters, morally ambiguous subject and stunning performances from Jude Law and Rooney Mara. I was so invested in the plot, trying to figure out how it would end (knowing full-well that it would end with a twist) that I was practically giddy. It's been so long since a film really, truly surprised me. Then, the twist came and my giddiness came crashing down. The twist did surprise me, but only because it's ridiculous. Not the "we did it for money and revenge" twist, but the "surprise! we are lesbians" twist. It was a completely unnecessary turn of events and it felt like it was only put there as a true "surprise" for those that figured out the rest of the twists on their own. I enjoy some girl-on-girl action as much as the next guy (yes, I am a girl), but Rooney Mara and Catherine Zeta-Jones??? I am not a fan of Zeta-Jones, she was the weakest link of the film (seriously, her presence in this film was an embarrassment compared to her co-stars), so maybe, that explains why it was so horrifying and cringe-worthy. But really, these two characters barely share any screen time together and they had no chemistry at all. The last 20 minutes really ruined the entire movie, for me, although I would still recommend it. It's definitely my favorite Soderbergh, since the Ocean's films.
2. The "side effects" - I guess my bigger problem with the final twist, is that the whole film builds up this commentary on America's obsession with pills, and questions who is responsible for this obsession, then it takes all that build up and flushes it down the toilet. With the pharmaceutical companies paying doctors to perform drug trials, the doctors prescribing these pills that have known (and dangerous) side effects and the patients who willingly take these drugs - who do we blame, when it all comes crashing down? Can you really find a person guilty of murder, if they weren't even conscious at the time of the murder? In the bigger picture, we are all really to blame. Americans have become so dependent on drugs, that it is part of every day conversation - and I often encounter people bragging about how many pills they take. This obsession with pills is causing a societal "side effect" of its own - it's causing a blurred line between people who actually need this medication and people who just don't like feeling depressed. Being depressed isn't fun, but it is a part of life - instead of feeling all the ups and downs of life, people are walking around zombified and devoid of feelings. How can a doctor really tell the difference between who is in need of help, when everyone thinks they need it? The big slap in the face, in the movie, is that she was never even taking the pills - so all the complicated questions that are asked are completely ignored and become pointless. All for the cop-out of a "big twist".
3. Rooney Mara and Jude Law - I'm going to try to forget about Catherine Zeta-Jones and really, Channing Tatum is in a forgettable role. However, Rooney Mara and Jude Law are exceptional. It's a shame that the film will likely be forgotten about come next awards season, because they both deserve some recognition. I am a fan of Jude Law, but I haven't really thoroughly enjoyed his work since 2004 (Closer, I Heart Huckabees, The Aviator). This film reminded me just how good of an actor he really is. I wasn't as enamored by Mara in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as everyone else was, but I see her talent here (I still prefer Kate Mara, though).