If you saw Steven Soderbergh’s new psychopharmacology thriller, Side Effects, over the weekend, you might be left with one big question. If you haven’t, stop reading—SPOILERS to follow.
Side Effects is an unusual murder-mystery in that the main question isn’t about who the killer is. Instead, we wonder whether the “motive” of the killer—Rooney Mara’s Emily, a depressed woman dealing with her husband’s release from jail—might have been some unpleasant side effects from a new antidepressant she is taking. Of course, those who have already seen the movie know that’s not exactly the full story: that the *SPOILER COMING* “sleepwalking” was premeditated—and all of the typical movie-mystery questions are unraveled by her doctor (Jude Law) at movie’s end.
But was Emily really faking illness all along, or is there something wrong in her head beyond mere greed and anger? And, if she was faking it, how should the audience feel about where she ends up—committed, in a Kafkaesque twist that dooms her by her own protestations of healthiness, to a mental institution? TIME recently spoke with Dr. Sasha Bardey, the forensic psychiatrist who co-produced the movie and kept the proceedings grounded in reality. And, according to Dr. Bardey, Emily winds up right where she belongs.
TIME: What diagnosis would you give Emily, if any?
Bardey: I think she’s actually a psychopath. A psychopath in terms of psychiatric diagnosis, the DSM IV and now the DSM V, is classified as someone with an antisocial personality disorder—but in more layman’s terms, it’s more of a sociopath or a psychopath, which is someone who readily is able to lie and deceive and manipulate for her own gain.
So we shouldn’t feel bad that she ends up committed.
I don’t think we should feel too bad for her. One of her last lines, when she’s asked “How are you doing?” and she goes “Better. Much Better”—that should send a chill down your spine. She might come back.