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FILM FANS: It's a great ride with 'Side Effects'

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Special Photo: Rooney Mara stars with Channing Tatum in "Side Effects."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Film Fans features local residents reviewing the movie of the week: "Side Effects." Want to be a film fan? Email features@gwinnettdailypost.com.

2.5 stars out of 4 stars

Steven Soderbergh's latest directorial offering is "Side Effects," a psychological thriller. Rooney Mara, in an understated performance, portrays Emily, the principal character, who claims to be suffering from depression. Channing Tatum has a supporting role as Emily's husband, who is newly released from jail after serving time for insider trading. Jude Law turns in a rather lifeless and snoozy portrayal of Emily's doctor. Catherine Zeta-Jones plays a sultry-but-shifty therapist from Emily's past.

"Side Effects" uses a combination of long close-ups on the principal actors contrasted with a jittery hand-held camera style in some of the outdoor scenes. The score by Thomas Newman is atmospheric, alternating bells and drums with a distorted acoustic guitar. The resulting music is almost electronic at times, and complements the sensual, mysterious quality of the movie.

After an effective and jarring opening scene, it takes a long time for the plot to develop. When things finally begin to unfold, the movie hits its stride and becomes an unpredictable roller coaster ride, with twists and turns that keep the viewer guessing as to what could happen next. "Side Effects" is well worth a matinee or a rental, but probably not worthy of a full-price admission. -- Paul Tate, Sugar Hill

3 stars out of 4 stars

I really enjoyed this movie. Much like a roller coaster ride, it starts out a little slow, then gradually picks up speed and builds anticipation for what's coming, then pays off in a big way keeping you on the edge of your seat. There are enough twists and turns to keep you curious about what will happen next, and just when you think you have it figured out, it turns another corner and the ride continues.

I sincerely hope that this is not Steven Soderbergh's last film, as he has insinuated. He draws performances from some already accomplished actors like no one can, and tells a story so effectively that it is practically impossible to resist staying involved, much like Alfred Hitchcock and a few others.

By now, I suppose the story here is fairly well known; however, the performances by Jude Law, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Rooney Mara are the icing on the cake. Mara is excellent and displays another level to her versatility, skillfully keeping you involved with what she is feeling with her looks and expressions, rather than with overwhelming dialog. But it's Law who steals the show as he leads you along with what he's doing while making you wonder what he may be up to next, with an unexpected twist at the end that you will not see coming.

Very good acting and a fun ride for any fan of mystery and suspense, this is definitely one not to miss, and definitely not one for the kids.

-- Steve Kalberg, Lawrenceville

3.5 stars out of 4 stars

The movie "Side Effects" is a thriller directed by Steven Soderbergh. It stars Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Channing Tatum. Before seeing the movie, I watched the trailer for this and like all trailers should be, it didn't tell me anything about the movie except that Mara's character who is very depressed takes a drug prescribed by her therapist, Law, and it has side effects.

This movie I think is the best film release so far this year. It is extremely well written and well-acted. The dialogue is so interesting and the characters become so fascinating that it does become faster-paced toward the end. This is definitely a film lover's movie and is for someone who appreciates good dialogue and amazing cinematography captured always so well by Soderbergh. Mara and Law played both of their parts so well they made me feel for their characters in the situations that they were in. The only objection I have to this movie is that Tatum's character was not explained very well and would have made the movie a little bit better and easier to understand. Overall, I definitely recommend seeing it if you haven't already. -- Brittany Wygladalski, Sugar Hill