Open Road Films is releasing their new film, Side Effects (formerly titled Bitter Pill) in theaters today, February 8th and it is an impressive new thriller, involving crime and drama. I did not find it predictable as some films may be that involve drugs, prescribed or recreational. From reading the synopsis provided by Open Road Films and not viewing trailers that reveal so much of a film at times, I had a certain idea of what might unfold in the story written by Scott Z. Burns. I am so glad to be surprised by this story that kept me engaged throughout and pleased with the performance by the actors of their respective characters. Film fans are familiar with Academy Award nominee Jude Law and Catherine Zeta-Jones, along with Academy Award nominee Rooney Mara and Channing Tatum. Although Tatum is in this film, his role is much, much lesser in this film than in last year’s three films, Magic Mike, 21 Jumpstreet and The Vow. It is Rooney Mara’s performance with Law and Zeta-Jones that stands out here. Mara was good in her 2010 and 2011 films, but I was not as impressed then with her performances as I am now after viewing Side Effects.
This feature film may not arrive with plenty of fanfare ahead of the opening day today, but movie buffs that enjoy films directed by Steven Soderbergh will most likely feel satisfied they got their money’s worth at the theater, weather paying matinee or full price. I think it is worth the latter, especially given some of the choices of films released in the past month that are probably more deserving of a DVD release than a theatrical one (not going name names here).
I prefer not to say too much to reveal all of this film that has a focus on a young couple, Emily and Martin (Mara and Tatum), when their wealthy life goes haywire. Emily has a hard time with the major life stressor and has a psychiatrist (or two) apparently on speed dial for prescription drugs and other needs. I hope you are as surprised by the murder and mayhem as I am. There came a time in the film when I started to wonder who really needs the therapy and antidepressants here. You have to watch the film for some interesting twists. My, oh my, Dr. Victoria Siebert (Catherine Zeta-Jones)!