Emily Taylor is depressed. "It's like this poisonous fog bank rolling in on my mind," she tells her psychiatrist. In Side Effects, Steven Soderbergh's artfully cool, aptly clinical thriller, it's a line that will come back to haunt her.
Rooney Mara - the girl from The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, minus the piercings, cyber-craft, and attitude - is Emily, in her late 20s, living and working in New York. Her husband, Martin (an unshowy Channing Tatum), has just been released from prison, where he has been serving time on an insider-trading conviction. And Jude Law, making the rounds of a hospital psychiatric ward, is the shrink, Jonathan Banks.
One evening, just days after Martin's release, Emily climbs into her car and guns it, foot down on the accelerator, straight into a wall. At the hospital, Banks examines the bruised and battered Emily, takes her on as a patient, and, well, the rest is tricky - a tightly coiled psychological thriller that would make James M. Cain proud.
Side Effects, as its title suggests, is on one level a movie about the culture of pharmaceutical cure-alls - mood elevators, antidepressants, SSRIs, SNRIs, Bupropion, Trazodone, Mirtazapine - drugs, that as Banks explains, "help stop the brain from telling you you're sad."