Side effects is an interesting psychological thriller. The story is good; with a number of twists and turns along the way. The subject matter is pretty dark; involving the marketing and side effects of prescribed medication.
None of the major characters in the film are nice people, all of them are manipulative and duplicitous, so it is hard to feel empathy when bad things happen to them.
Having said that, Rooney Mara and Jude Law both put in compelling performances. Steven Soderbergh is a reliably good director, and the direction of this film suits the subject matter well. The setting is modern urban and you are made to feel the adversity and frustrations of their day-to-day life.
The dialogue is sharp and the story is clever, a Hitchcock style chiller, that enjoyed a revival in the 1980s, but is out of fashion now. I dislike how calculating everybody turns out to be; every character is using everybody else with no regard to their welfare or needs. Perhaps this is a comment on the pharmacological industry, but it feels implied of the world in general and this is too dystopian an outlook to make easy viewing. The problem is, the acting and directing are good, so you can see their motivation and at times it is tempting to believe that it could be true.
In summary, this is a well made movie, that seems little too cold and analytical for its own good now; however, in the future, with the benefit of hindsight, it is possible, that this might be one of those films that we look back on as capturing the mood of the world at that time. I hope not, but I want someone remind me to watch it again in 15 years time.
This is the Hollywood film adaptation of a hugely successful 2005 Swedish book. It follows a highly regarded 2009 Swedish movie of the same story. It is a brave undertaking to attempt the third retelling of a story that has already been done twice, so well and so recently. However “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” acquits itself admirably – it is different enough to be interesting and stylish enough to be enjoyable.
The film is a thriller and it stars Daniel Craig, so comparisons are inevitable. He says that he worked hard not to be seen as James Bond in this film and the thrills are more psychological than action, but it still comes across as a more thoughtful installment of the 007 genre. If the film company did not want comparisons with that franchise, they should have avoided using the, admittedly very good, opening credits. Once you imagine “What James Bond does on his holidays” at the start, the thought stays with you throughout the film.
I loved Rooney Mara as Lisbeth. She was nominated for an Academy Award as best actress and it was well deserved. The original title of the book in Swedish was “Men Who Hate Women” and Lisbeth is almost the woman who exacts revenge. In this version she is quite different from the character written in the book but she manages to keep the same attitude and demeanour. The violence is pretty full-on, but it is an angry and aggressive story, so although I am generally not a fan of shocking brutality in films, there is a good argument here, that it is relevant to the narrative.
The acting throughout is admirable, Stellan Skarsgard is excellent as Martin. The scenery is gorgeous. The cinematography is lovely, this received an Academy Award nomination too.
The film is polished and sleek, beautiful to watch and directed with a cold detachment which adds, both to the climate in which it is set and to the chilling story it relates. It was nominated for five Oscars, it won the one for best film editing.
This is a professional, well made, efficient Hollywood movie. Recommended.