The current state of our healthcare system, and especially the pervasiveness of prescription pills, have been the subject of great and compelling interest to news outlets over the last few years. But it's not exactly been the stuff of great multiplex excitement.
We received more proof this weekend with the opening of “Side Effects” . The movie, which tells of a troubled woman (Rooney Mara) for whom things begin to go askew when she tries a new psychiatric medication, grossed a dismal $10 million in U.S. theaters despite the presence of popular stars (Channing Tatum plays Mara's husband) and stellar reviews.
Yes, I know, iffy marketing campaigns and Steven Soderbergh and all that. (The director, as my colleague Amy Kaufman notes, isn’t a consistent draw). And it's easy to wonder if the film might have done slightly better with a stronger title. (The movie was originally called "The Bitter Pill," an improvement, after a fashion.) But it’s hard not to feel as if the subject matter isn’t also responsible, at least a little, for the poor showing of “Side Effects.”
A couple years back, Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway couldn’t turn another pill-themed story, “Love and Other Drugs,” into rom-com gold. Reese Witherspoon has all but given up trying to get her passion project about a woman working her way in the pharmaceutical business (with the admittedly unfortunate name of “Pharm Girl”) up and running.