Director Steven Soderbergh has always been something of a genre chameleon, his last three movies alone being testament to that - Contagion, Haywire and Magic Mike. This time round, he's trying his hand at a modern day film noir. Side Effects is also apparently Soderbergh's last film as director following his recent retirement announcement, which probably had a lot to do with the fact that no studio would fund his next movie, Liberace biopic Behind The Candelabra, because it was "too gay". But we digress...
Emily (Rooney Mara) has just brought her husband Martin (Channing Tatum) home from prison, where he's been serving his four year sentence for embezzlement. It's not long before Emily begins to suffer from some serious anxiety attacks, one of which results in her driving her car straight into a wall. After this "accident", she begins to see a therapist, Dr. Banks (Jude Law), who prescribes her some pretty strong, new-to-the-market medication, while he also tries to get a better idea of Emily's past, including getting information from her previous therapist, Dr. Siebert (Catherine Zeta-Jones). But when the new medication results in some seriously unexpected side effects, Dr. Banks finds himself at the centre of a very dangerous situation.
To give much more of the plot away would spoil some of the delicious twists and turns that the story takes, but it's not unfair to say that this is exactly the kind of movie that Hitchcock would be making if he were still about today. Towards the end it suffers from one plot-revelation too many, but up until then it is a fantastically tense, intelligent thriller that starts off slow but soon builds to a break-neck pace.
Performances are all pretty great, with special mention going to Jude Law who properly conveys a man who has it all and then watches helplessly as the walls begin to close in around him. If this is to be Soderbergh's final film, he's going out with a bang, as Side Effects ranks up there with Out Of Sight, Traffic and Ocean's Eleven as some of his finest work.