Today’s my 31st birthday and I decided to take in Steven Soderbergh’s latest, SIDE EFFECTS. The trailer looked very promising and the prospect of seeing two of my celebrity crushes – Catherine Zeta-Jones and Rooney Mara – sharing some “quality” screen-time was too much to pass up.
SIDE EFFECTS, at least for me, played like a combination of David Mamet’s masterful THE SPANISH PRISONER (1997) and Soderbergh’s own THE GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE (2009). In the case of the former, SIDE EFFECTS is driven by a very Hitchcockian plot with twists and turns that may seem convoluted at first, but resolve themselves quite nicely by the end. And in the case of the latter, the film’s aesthetic seemed like a throwback to the shot-0n-video cinematography of that picture.
The film offers a very interesting perspective on antidepressants that ought to play well to the conspiracy theory crowd who believe psychotropic drugs induce suicidal and/or homicidal tendencies in users. Whether or not the intention of the screenwriter was to prove the Alex Jones’ of the world, right, is debatable, but there’s an undeniable anti-psychiatry message here that will certainly polarize audiences depending on one’s view on the subject.
Personally, I think psychiatrists are a little too eager to prescribe medications for patients who may very well just need a foundation of love and support from family and friends in order to cope. That isn’t to say that there aren’t people who legitimately need antidepressants. But at the end of the day, psychiatry (in collusion with the pharmaceutical industry) is a business like any other, and you can’t honestly say with a straight face that they don’t receive some kind of “kickback” for prescribing certain meds. And as quick as they are to push a product, they’re even quicker to back off when it blows up in their face vis-a-vis a major crisis that ends up having been caused by said medication.
SIDE EFFECTS examines this issue quite brilliantly and will certainly leave you with much food for thought.