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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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Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions: Andrew Dung-Lac was one of 117 people martyred in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862. Members of this group were beatified on four different occasions between 1900 and 1951. All were canonized by St. John Paul II. 
<p>Christianity came to Vietnam (then three separate kingdoms) through the Portuguese. Jesuits opened the first permanent mission at Da Nang in 1615. They ministered to Japanese Catholics who had been driven from Japan. </p><p>The king of one of the kingdoms banned all foreign missionaries and tried to make all Vietnamese deny their faith by trampling on a crucifix. Like the priest-holes in Ireland during English persecution, many hiding places were offered in homes of the faithful. </p><p>Severe persecutions were again launched three times in the 19th century. During the six decades after 1820, between 100,000 and 300,000 Catholics were killed or subjected to great hardship. Foreign missionaries martyred in the first wave included priests of the Paris Mission Society, and Spanish Dominican priests and tertiaries. </p><p>Persecution broke out again in 1847 when the emperor suspected foreign missionaries and Vietnamese Christians of sympathizing with a rebellion led by of one of his sons. </p><p>The last of the martyrs were 17 laypersons, one of them a 9-year-old, executed in 1862. That year a treaty with France guaranteed religious freedom to Catholics, but it did not stop all persecution. </p><p>By 1954 there were over a million and a half Catholics—about seven percent of the population—in the north. Buddhists represented about 60 percent. Persistent persecution forced some 670,000 Catholics to abandon lands, homes and possessions and flee to the south. In 1964, there were still 833,000 Catholics in the north, but many were in prison. In the south, Catholics were enjoying the first decade of religious freedom in centuries, their numbers swelled by refugees. </p><p>During the Vietnamese war, Catholics again suffered in the north, and again moved to the south in great numbers. Now the whole country is under Communist rule.</p> American Catholic Blog To replace our sins with virtues may seem like a daunting task, but fortunately we can follow the example of the saints who have 
successfully defeated these sins in their lifetimes. They provide us with a way forward so that we, too, can live holy, virtuous lives.

 
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