Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Starring: Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Channing Tatum, Vanessa Shaw
Grade: C –
One hopes that Steven Soderbergh’s “Side Effects” isn’t – as proclaimed – his final feature film, since it’s lazily unbecoming of his eclectic filmography, and a severe disappointment. Soderbergh’s biggest crime is to squander opportunities to provide a concrete commentary on the perils of the pharmaceutical industry, using the arena as a haven for exploitation but at no particular cost to the accepted enterprise of doping to maintain business. Instead, the film acts as more of a cautionary tale about how manipulative women can be – particularly when they aren’t under the spell of a man (please!) – its array of characters all morally compromised and conceited to some degree. That the film makes the two ‘victims’ of events a corrupt stockbroker and a vindictive shrink adds little weight to its ideas of corporate greed, as it doesn’t really establish a network beyond its set of strangely compartmentalised characters to punctuate lasting observations about a ‘rotten core’ to the industry, like “Margin Call” did, for example. The thriller’s linear path creates just one legitimate avenue of mystery, and the film fails to maintain enough interest to offset the inevitability of its climax, settling instead to offer a couple of redundant twists at its laboured denouement.