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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Side Effects

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Jude Law and Catherine Zeta-Jones star in a scene from the movie "Side Effects."
Intriguing but somewhat sordid, the psychiatry-themed drama Side Effects (Open Road) messes, quite successfully, with viewers' heads. Mature moviegoers may enjoy following the twisting trail of director Steven Soderbergh's clever puzzler.

Yet a number of red-flag elements preclude not only youngsters but those in search of casual diversion as well.

This is the story of British-born, New York-based analyst Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law) and one of his patients, Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara).

Emily suffers from depression and suicidal tendencies. But she also has more concrete troubles: Her formerly high-flying husband, Martin (Channing Tatum), has just finished serving a prison term for insider trading. With his arrest, their idyllic suburban lifestyle was left in ruins, and Emily has been struggling to make ends meet ever since.

As Martin works to re-establish himself, Dr. Banks experiments, all too casually, with various anti-depressants for Emily. One of them turns out to have side effects in the form of sleepwalking and unconscious behavior. But Emily prefers these consequences to the far more unpleasant symptoms—like sudden nausea—induced by other prescriptions she's tried. So, at her behest, Dr. Banks keeps her on the drug.

Soon after, however, Emily commits a sensational crime under the hypnosislike influence of the medication. The ensuing firestorm of negative publicity threatens to destroy Dr. Banks' career.

All is not what it seems, of course—as Dr. Banks discovers once he begins to dig into Emily's past, including her relationship with her former shrink, Dr. Victoria Siebert (Catherine Zeta-Jones).

Scott Z. Burns' script raises implicit questions about a society awash in pharmaceuticals that may be more beneficial to their manufacturers' bottom line than to those taking them. But a handful of sexual encounters, some of them aberrant—as well as the gory offense at the heart of the plot—mean the rough-edged pieces of this jigsaw are for the sturdiest only.

The film contains brief but bloody violence, graphic marital lovemaking with fleeting nudity, semi-graphic lesbian sensuality, mature themes, including mental illness and suicide, at least one use of profanity as well as some rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is L—limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.



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Anthony Grassi: Anthony’s father died when his son was only 10 years old, but the young lad inherited his father’s devotion to Our Lady of Loreto. As a schoolboy he frequented the local church of the Oratorian Fathers, joining the religious order when he was 17.
<p>Already a fine student, he soon gained a reputation in his religious community as a "walking dictionary" who quickly grasped Scripture and theology. For some time he was tormented by scruples, but they reportedly left him at the very hour he celebrated his first Mass. From that day, serenity penetrated his very being.
</p><p>In 1621, at age 29, Anthony was struck by lightning while praying in the church of the Holy House at Loreto. He was carried paralyzed from the church, expecting to die. When he recovered in a few days he realized that he had been cured of acute indigestion. His scorched clothes were donated to the Loreto church as an offering of thanks for his new gift of life.
</p><p>More important, Anthony now felt that his life belonged entirely to God. Each year thereafter he made a pilgrimage to Loreto to express his thanks.
</p><p>He also began hearing confessions, and came to be regarded as an outstanding confessor. Simple and direct, he listened carefully to penitents, said a few words and gave a penance and absolution, frequently drawing on his gift of reading consciences.
</p><p>In 1635 he was elected superior of the Fermo Oratory. He was so well regarded that he was reelected every three years until his death. He was a quiet person and a gentle superior who did not know how to be severe. At the same time he kept the Oratorian constitutions literally, encouraging the community to do likewise.
</p><p>He refused social or civic commitments and instead would go out day or night to visit the sick or dying or anyone else needing his services. As he grew older, he had a God-given awareness of the future, a gift which he frequently used to warn or to console.
</p><p>But age brought its challenges as well. He suffered the humility of having to give up his physical faculties one by one. First was his preaching, necessitated after he lost his teeth. Then he could no longer hear confessions. Finally, after a fall, he was confined to his room. The archbishop himself came each day to give him holy Communion. One of Anthony’s final acts was to reconcile two fiercely quarreling brothers.</p> American Catholic Blog God of love, as I come to the end of this Advent season, my heart is ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus. I join with Mary in saying, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Nothing is impossible with you, O God.

 
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