Side Effects (2013) is a quiet psychological film that rolls along in a calming, dreamlike state. It cuts away from scene to scene and jumps from point to point, with dialogue spilling over into the next as we wander aimlessly through a storyline that doesn’t find its feet until the first act is over.
I implore anyone who watches this film to go in without any details and to stick with it until the halfway point, as the first act appears quite bland and lifeless until all of the pieces fall into place. Even then, the characters themselves remain fairly two-dimensional throughout the film. However, the narrative is intoxicating enough to carry the load as it develops into a coherent and surprisingly intriguing plot.
Side Effects revolves around its narrative. There is nothing special about the cinematography, and the soundtrack, while fitting with the calm and dreamlike pace of the film, is nothing to rave about. Neither is the subdued acting, which is sufficient enough as a vehicle for the script, but does little otherwise. The film relies entirely on its storyline to capture the viewer’s attention, and for those going in without any knowledge, it serves its purpose very well despite a number of questionable plot points. As an overall piece, however, it doesn’t quite hit the dramatic nerves that it should; it builds up to an unsatisfying whimper of an ending and leaves a bad taste to an enjoyable movie, whose subdued pieces allow the narrative to shine but prevent the film from ascending.