Metascore
75

Generally favorable reviews - based on 39 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 33 out of 39
  2. Negative: 2 out of 39
  1. Reviewed by: Jordan Hoffman
    Feb 26, 2013
    91
    He’s taken what, on paper, boils down to an extra ridiculous episode of “Law and Order: Criminal Intent” and passes it off as high cinematic art.
  2. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Feb 7, 2013
    91
    By the time the satisfying conclusion rolls around, though, it proves to be much more about the ability of a world-class director to induce such willing suspension of disbelief that even the loopiest narrative developments seem like the most natural thing in the world.
  3. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Feb 9, 2013
    90
    Side Effects virtually demands a three-word review: Just see it.
  4. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Feb 7, 2013
    90
    This clever bag of tricks is made with so much cinematic skill it makes implausibility irrelevant. What happens on screen is unapologetically far-fetched, but it unfolds with enough panache to make turning away out of the question.
  5. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Feb 7, 2013
    90
    In another sense, though, everything is exactly what it seems, expertly crafted and cleverly compounded for high-dose entertainment.
  6. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Feb 7, 2013
    90
    While the plot may be predictable (and more than a little preposterous) in retrospect, Mr. Soderbergh handles it brilliantly, serving notice once again that he is a crackerjack genre technician.
  7. Reviewed by: Randy Cordova
    Feb 6, 2013
    90
    Ultimately, think of the movie as a puzzle box in which all the pieces fit together wonderfully well. Once you step back and take a look at how it’s all put together, you have to marvel at how cleverly constructed the whole thing is.
  8. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Feb 7, 2013
    88
    Side Effects, chilly and noirish, and boasting a wily performance from Catherine Zeta-Jones as a therapist who worked with Emily earlier in her adulthood, is, Soderbergh says, his swan song.
  9. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Feb 6, 2013
    88
    Imagine music for a sorcery-related plot and then dial it down to ominous forebodings. Without Thomas Newman's score, Side Effects would be a lesser film, even another film.
  10. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Feb 6, 2013
    88
    Side Effects is Soderbergh in full, flinty vigor. It's anything but a formula murder mystery.
  11. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    Feb 6, 2013
    83
    Like his underappreciated "Haywire," Side Effects screws around in its own thriller architecture, toying with feints of structure and clever bits of misdirection, and otherwise playing the audience like a fiddle. At this point in his career, Soderbergh pulls it off with the unpracticed ease of a maestro.
  12. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Feb 6, 2013
    83
    Side Effects is mostly a good Saturday-night movie, but by the end, it's caused a few unintended side effects of its own: a bit of head-scratching, and a giggle or two of disbelief.
  13. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Feb 5, 2013
    83
    The scenes pile up with frenetic intensity; as with Soderbergh's other recent exercises in the suspense genre, no single cutaway goes wasted.
  14. Reviewed by: Ian Freer
    Mar 4, 2013
    80
    We may lose Soderbergh to painting, theatre and HBO-fuelled TV, and that’s a crying shame. If that’s the case, Side Effects is a great note on which to go out.
  15. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Feb 7, 2013
    80
    The movie respects a viewer’s intelligence, which should also serve as a warning; don’t be lulled into a stupor. Keeping sharp will allow all the fun and menace in this terrific thriller to seep into your head.
  16. Reviewed by: Melissa Anderson
    Feb 5, 2013
    80
    If Side Effects, an immensely pleasurable thriller centering around psychotropic drugs, really is Steven Soderbergh's final big-screen film, as the director claims it will be, then he has peaked in the Valley of the Dolls.
  17. 80
    Soderbergh’s alleged last theatrical film is paranoid and hopeless, but he leaves the field with a bounce in his step.
  18. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Jan 25, 2013
    80
    Steven Soderbergh's elegantly coiled puzzler spins a tale of clinical depression and psychiatric malpractice into an absorbing, cunningly unpredictable entertainment that, like much of his recent work, closely observes how a particular subset of American society operates in a needy, greedy, paranoid and duplicitous age.
  19. Reviewed by: Marjorie Baumgarten
    Feb 7, 2013
    78
    You never really see any of it coming, which is what makes the film such a marvel – and so difficult to discuss.
  20. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Feb 8, 2013
    75
    The main thing to keep in mind while watching Steven Soderbergh’s thriller Side Effects is not to take the movie too seriously or else you’ll feel betrayed by the end.
  21. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Feb 8, 2013
    75
    A sleekly clever murder mystery, the film plays as many games with the audience as it does with its characters, and for the majority of the running time — the challenge comes from matching wits with what you’re seeing.
  22. 75
    But it’s Rooney who commands the most attention. As she already proved in David Fincher’s "The Social Network" and "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," she has an oddly fascinating screen presence, suggesting both vulnerability and inscrutable levels of calculation. Few actors or actresses can make inexpressiveness look so smart.
  23. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    Feb 7, 2013
    75
    I walked out of Steven Soderbergh’s Side Effects thinking to myself, “Finally, a mainstream 2013 movie I can whole-heartedly recommend’’ — then quickly added, “well, except that it will probably piss off a sizeable portion of the target audience.’’
  24. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Feb 7, 2013
    75
    It's a gripping, maddening and thoroughly satisfying thriller, made with artfulness and integrity. Soderbergh sees things in his actors and gets things from them that other directors don't.
  25. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Feb 7, 2013
    75
    With Rooney Mara as the woman in question — a poised, tense Manhattanite prescribed anti-anxiety medication by her psychiatrist with newsworthy results — Side Effects finds its ideal performer.
  26. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Feb 7, 2013
    75
    There's something delightfully old-fashioned about Steven Soderbergh's Side Effects. It's the kind of thriller that Alfred Hitchcock might make if he was still alive and active today.
  27. 75
    Steven Soderbergh, rightly considered one of Hollywood’s smartest movie makers, is at his cleverest in Side Effects, a canny, cunning big idea thriller in a minor key, an engrossing zeitgeist whodunit about Wall Street, Big Pharma, prescription drugs and the power we give psychiatry and psychologists.
  28. Reviewed by: Drew Taylor
    Feb 3, 2013
    75
    The picture's conspiratorial late-night tone and fleshy after hours luridness was practically built for watching at night, when our parents think we've gone off to bed (think '80s films directed by folks like Adrian Lyne).
  29. Reviewed by: David Denby
    Feb 9, 2013
    70
    In Side Effects, the working out of the thriller plot is accomplished with too much verbal explanation. [11 & 18 Feb. 2013, p.114]
  30. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Feb 7, 2013
    70
    It’s masterfully shot and edited, with a brooding soundtrack and a mysterious, dreamlike undertow – and, when all is revealed, it’s not even half as interesting as it seems to be.
  31. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Feb 7, 2013
    70
    Some of these revelations feel like clever reversals, others like calculated rug-pulls, but we never stop caring about what happens next.
  32. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Feb 8, 2013
    67
    Soderbergh and screenwriter Scott Z. Burns maintain a tone of taut creepiness, but the plot’s double and triple crosses are more ingenious than believable.
  33. Reviewed by: Ed Gonzalez
    Jan 25, 2013
    63
    Like Magic Mike, Side Effects is enlivened by Soderbergh's jazzy style and laidback moralism, bringing to mind the work of another connoisseur of genre, Robert Altman.
  34. Reviewed by: Keith Uhlich
    Feb 5, 2013
    60
    It’s a reasonably diverting piece of work, falling somewhere between the high of "Magic Mike" (2012) and the low of "Haywire" (2011), among his recent efforts.
  35. Reviewed by: Scott Bowles
    Feb 7, 2013
    50
    Like a lot of meds, it loses its effectiveness over time, and you'll build a resistance to Effects eventually, particularly when it dissolves into a standard crime flick.
  36. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Feb 7, 2013
    50
    Like a gel cap in a sip of orange juice, the psycho-pharmacological thriller Side Effects goes down easily, even if its long-term impact turns out to be barely dis­cern­ible.
  37. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Feb 3, 2013
    50
    In trying to merge this alarmist theme with an old-fashioned murder mystery, the filmmakers throw at least one plot-twist sucker-punch too many, leaving the viewer with an “Oh, come on” reaction to the entire film.
  38. Reviewed by: Mark Jenkins
    Feb 8, 2013
    35
    The movie maintains its sense of style throughout, but that hardly matters as the story just gets stupider and stupider.
  39. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Feb 6, 2013
    25
    What it turns out to be is a preposterous puzzle that fails every test under scrutiny, leaving the spectator with a “Huh?” that is meant to be uttered only while chewing gum.
User Score
7.1

Generally favorable reviews- based on 231 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 53 out of 72
  2. Negative: 5 out of 72
  1. Feb 16, 2013
    5
    Decent movie but not something I could recommend to anyone. I think the (roughly) 2 hours was not well spent. The last 20-30 minutes of the film felt rushed and it required a lot of acceptance from the viewer on things that were not very well explained to make the movie work. Overall it was interesting but not new or unique. Full Review »
  2. Feb 9, 2013
    8
    Does anyone here know that big pharma brings in more money than all of Hollywood put together. I have to say this movie had me fooled. My mind was like a sunflower standing in the wind as the movie would blow one direction and then start gusting the other way. It was quite refreshing actually. All the actors did a good convincing job which is so important in this type of film. Channing Tatum's acting skills are improving with every appearance. Full Review »
  3. Feb 23, 2013
    9
    I loved this movie. Side Effects is an incredibly complex and amazingly smart thriller; because of a fantastic screenplay, the plot convincingly leads you down one path, but by the end of it all, you're nowhere close to where you thought the film was going. The film does take its time setting itself up during the first third of the film, but once the story starts to unfold, it twists relentlessly while never being entirely obvious. This is one of Soderbergh's best directorial efforts; he directs with style, the aesthetics are beautiful, and he gets some really good performances from his cast. Rooney Mara is terrific, she delves into many different levels of depression and she really impressed me my with her performance. Jude Law is also really good. I think he's a great (and underrated) actor; he was given a great role here and he nails it. Zeta-Jones and Channing Tatum both step out of their comfort zones and deliver solid performances, which is really nice, but he was terribly miscast. Side Effects is one of the best thrillers I've seen in years. It's highly intelligent, but it lets its audience join in the fun of trying to figure it out. This makes for a thrilling, exciting, and satisfying movie experience. Check it out! Full Review »