SIDE EFFECTS

I went into this not knowing at all what it was about. And that’s the best way to watch this twisty mystery in the style of Hitchcock, which hinges on whether or not its damsel is really in distress. Or something deadly different. Or deadly in a different way. Believability may fade if you start asking questions, but it’s played with the right tone by its starring trio. (Not quartet: Channing Tatum is handsomely in place for what turns out to be a short ride.) Jude Law holds himself in reserve until the tables turn, as does Catherine Zeta-Jones, but once they do, it’s fun to watch the glow grow in Law’s eyes as he sniffs advantage, and maybe even more fun to watch Z-J’s long, dirty kiss that moistens the screen. Rooney Mara’s take on clinical depression seemed at first to be a bit actress-y, but turns out that was just the right choice. At the beginning, I thought Soderbergh was making a polemic about Big Pharma, and in fact there are issues of medical ethics raised and discussed. But this is an entertainment first, with plot reversals and black hearts and lust and murder. Noir nirvana! — Jeff Schultz

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