Rooney Mara caught our eye before her appearances in David Fincher’s The Social Network and Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (the latter earned her an Oscar nod), standing out as the lead in the otherwise-dismal Nightmare on Elm Street remake.

Over the past year or so, Mara circled a couple high-profile projects – specifically, director Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty and Spike Lee’s Oldboy re-imagining – before replacing Blake Lively as the Side Effects lead. The rising star returns to the spotlight with this self-described ‘pharmaceutical thriller.’

Side Effects is a new dramatic-thriller from Contagion screenwriter Scott Z. Burns and director Steve Soderbergh, who enters what may (or may not) be permanent, but self-imposed, retirement from filmmaking this year. That aside, trailers have suggested this flick could make for yet another interesting addition to the auteur’s eclectic collective body of work; though, everyone should know better now than to take the marketing for a Soderbergh movie at face value (following on the heels of misleading trailers for his last three pictures: Contagion, Haywire and Magic Mike).

The new Side Effects promo is leaner than its predecessor, but once again focuses on the Hitchcockian triangle of love, lies and (possibly) murder involving a young woman (Mara), her paroled husband (Channing Tatum) and therapist (Jude Law) – who prescribes her medication meant to help ease stress, but instead has (wait for it)… terrible life-changing side effects for all three of them.

Rooney Mara in ‘Side Effects’

Soderbergh’s latest boasts all his trademarks, including effective cinematography that heightens the atmosphere (here, terse and uncomfortable); not to mention, a cast boasting previous collaborators Law, Tatum and Oscar-winner Catherine Zeta-Jones, with support from character actors Vinessa Shaw (Vegas), David Constabile (Lincoln) and Mamie Gummer (Emily Owens, M.D.), among others. Of course, both strong direction and acting have always been givens with Soderbergh’s cinema.

On the other hand, the filmmaker often seems more interested in playing around with conventions – in terms of how he approaches and presents genre tropes – and that’s often resulted in movies that are easier to admire that enjoy. Side Effects could end up one of the exceptions to that rule, but it’s difficult to assume as much based on just the trailer footage. Who knows, maybe Soderbergh will manage to surprise us once again…

Look for Side Effects in U.S. theaters on February 8th, 2013.

Source: iTunes Movie Trailers