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Laramie Movie Scope:
Side Effects

Outwitting fiendishly clever murderers

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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February 16, 2013 -- This complex whodunit involves a fiendishly clever murder plot which snares an unsuspecting psychiatrist in a web of lies. It is all he can do to stay out of jail and extract himself from this mess.

This film, directed by Steven Soderbergh, is a lot like a film noir, “why me,” movie. The plot is a bit reminiscent of the 1981 film noir murder mystery “Body Heat.” It isn't that racy, but it is just as diabolical. Psychiatrist Dr. Jonathan Banks (played by Jude Law of the “Sherlock Holmes” movies) is under some financial pressure, so he agrees to a deal with a drug company to participate in a drug trial.

In his hospital rounds, Dr. Banks treats a troubled young woman, Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”) who tried to commit suicide. He gives her an anti-depressant drug, but it doesn't seem to work, so he adds another drug to her treatment. Emily suddenly, inexplicably kills her husband with a kitchen knife, apparently because of side effects of the drugs prescribed to her by Dr. Banks.

As a result of the publicity over Emily's trial, Dr. Banks loses his practice and is dropped from the drug trial by the manufacturer, seeking to avoid bad publicity. Dr. Banks' wife leaves him and she takes his child away as well. Dr. Banks' life is on the rocks. His only remaining patient is Emily Taylor, who is being held in a psychiatric facility until she is deemed fit to return to society. Her treatment is part of a plea bargain to escape a murder charge for killing her husband.

Dr. Banks has the feeling there is something not right about this whole case and he starts looking into the circumstances of Emily Taylor's attempted suicide. As part of his investigation, he talks to another psychiatrist who once treated Emily, Dr. Victoria Siebert (Catherine Zeta-Jones of “Rock of Ages”). He begins to suspect he is the victim of an elaborate plot.

Dr. Banks finds out that he has been played. He is not about to lay down. He decides to engage in a deadly game against the powerful forces moving against him in the desperate hope than he can somehow regain his career and get a measure of revenge against those responsible for his downfall. He is up against very clever people and a very complex scheme, but he is a smart, desperate man determined to win. He is also very good at psychological gamesmanship

I'm not a big fan of psychological dramas, but this is an exceptionally good one. It keeps you guessing right up to the end. I'm not a big fan of Jude Law, either, but he does a good job in this film. This film rates a B+.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2013 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)