The latest film by the uniquely talented Steven Soderbergh (OCEANS 11, TRAFFIC, ERIN BROCOVICH) tackles the drug firms that sell us relief from depression, stress, and even bi-polar dysfunction. We all know those commercials that begin in grayish tones with a variety of sad, unhappy people of all stripes. Then we see the pitch for the latest antidepressant with its promises of sunny days and happy nights and we watch smiling grandparents frolicking with their precious grandkids, husbands and wives reviving marital bliss, and all through rose-colored glasses. It's as though we've gone to Narnia or Oz. But wait: don't skip through the end or you'll miss the list of side effects. It's a long list that includes insomnia, headaches, nausea, etc., and ends with thoughts of suicide and DEATH. Of course, this part is read so speedily that we can hardly decipher the words.
The drug conclomerates and their ads are among the targets of Soderbergh's intriguing and suspenseful thriller SIDE EFFECTS. Part Hitchcock, part police procedural, and part character study, this film is typical of the director's talent for entertaining and making us think at the same time. Rooney Mara plays a deeply depressed young woman who stabs her husband to death while under the influence of a new drug, prescribed by her psychiatrist (Jude Law), who is conducting a test survey for a big drug company. She claims she did it in her sleep and is sent to a psychiatric hospital for observation. Meanwhile Law's character becomes a target for the media. He loses his partnership, his job for the conglomerate, and even his family, but he decides to fight back and uncovers an elaborate plot that is far deeper than a wife killing her husband. The entire cast, including Catherine Zeta-Jones, is excellent, but Jude Law carries the film with his intelligent and dogged pursuit of the truth. If you miss SIDE EFFECTS in theaters, put it on your streaming or Netflix queue.