The film begins as a biopic of a young woman riddled with mental health problems, whose initial euphoria on the release of her husband spirals into despair as she becomes increasingly depressed and medication dependent.
Her psychiatrist Dr Jonathan Banks, acted by Jude Law, agrees to prescribe Emily a clinical drug trial for handsome perks. The side effects worsen her condition and induce bizarre behaviour. The horror scenes add shock appeal and side-views of actress Rooney Mara’s gaunt cheek bones are reminiscent of frames of Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby. Bank’s marital tension fuelled by pressure to earn well while his wife in unemployed is twinned with his patient’s mental tension, and this builds the suspense. Thus the story arc along with an exploration of the ethical dilemmas faced by psychiatrists when Big Pharma administer the golden handcuffs had one such as me, interested in mental health, utterly hooked.
Then mid way through the film, there’s a genre-bending about-turn as it slides into a noir thriller. Adversely the earlier pace and suspense is lost and replaced with clunky incongruity and comedic disbelief. Characters you grew to like and care for in the first half turn into monsters and new characters like psychiatrist Dr Victoria Siebert played by Catherine Zeeta-Jones are pure caricature. In Catherine’s case: Betty Boop. Her sultry pout set against Jude Law’s plaintive poise is ridiculous.
The film does not satisfy and nor does the sum of its two parts. On a positive note, I agree with Bradshaw that Emily’s distorted reflection in the mirrored wall of the cocktail bar is one of the most disturbing scenes of the film and all the better for it. Perhaps it’s a homage to the similar shocker in Peeping Tom?