‘Side Effects’: Can prescription drugs change your life?

By Molly Grosskreutz
A&E Editor
And Valerie Groebner
A&E Assistant Editor
MG: We live in a time where problems are “solved” by prescrip¬tions. Feeling anxious? Take a pill. Depressed? Take a pill. Nauseous from those pills? Take another. This phenomenon is explored and cri-tiqued in Steven Soderbergh’s “Side Effects,” a riveting psychological thriller other critics say is reminis¬cent of “Basic Instinct” and “Fatal Attraction.”
In the film, distressed wife Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara) copes with the side effects of anti-depressant medication. Her husband, Martin (Channing Tatum), has just been released from prison, and she seeks help from psychiatrist Jonathan Banks (Jude Law) to ease her with that transition. Emily’s apparent dependence on the drugs leads to curious and grave consequences.
MG: First and foremost, this film is a profound commentary on our status as a “Prozac nation.” The ease with which all doctors in this film prescribe and distribute drugs at will is disturbing and raises questions about the ethics of those drugs.
VG: Consumption of prescription drugs is almost a fad, and looking closer into the life of it twists one’s perception of the matter. Drugs are treated like a meal these days, yet the general public doesn’t totally know what they do. In this film, we’re shown how horrifying the abuse of drugs can be, and that is necessary to be shown.
MG: The cinematography of this film is quite impressive. The hazy shots suggest Emily’s skewed clar¬ity of mind. The mirrors, light and shadow are characters unto them¬selves. In that way, this film feels like “The Shining” or “Black Swan.”
VG: I related a lot of the film ele¬ments of this movie to that of “The Shining.” However, I enjoyed how the effects went the extra mile by stepping into the mentality, or life of a character such as Mara’s, through the daring cinematogra¬phy. It was hypnotizing.
MG: I was blown away by Mara’s performance as mysterious Em¬ily. I haven’t seen her in “Girl with a Dragon Tattoo” yet, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. What I saw in this performance was an enticing darkness and an exquisite beauty that I haven’t seen in other actresses.
VG: I had not seen a film starring Mara, so I was curious to see how impressive she was. Her character handled insanity with such poise and grace; she made insanity look attractive, in a way. I agree that Mara possesses something that is not seen in other actresses, and she lets that shine very well in this role.
MG: This film is a little genre-con¬fused. It’s a drama, it’s a psycholog¬ical thriller, and it’s a mystery. But I think this blending of genres works in the context and subject matter of this film. If you’re confused half¬way through the movie to the end, that’s what you’re meant to feel.
VG: The confusion makes it so much more enticing, though! The audience doesn’t know what will happen next. Just as I thought something would be resolved or someone would fess up, a twist of suspense or mystery strikes just at the right millisecond. In all honesty, this is a flick I’d have to watch a few more times to wrap my mind around every aspect.
Final Verdict:
MG: Thumbs up.
VG: Thumbs up.

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