User Score
7.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 341 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 17 out of 341
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  1. Apr 5, 2014
    9
    Side Effects is one of Soderbergh's best movies in recent years. It has a complex center with intelligent screenwriting and great performances by Law, Zeta-Jones, Mara, and even Tatum.
  2. May 20, 2013
    8
    Soderbergh puts a smooth polish on Scott Z. Burns’ script, which has some clever twists and sly commentary about pharmaceutical-industry marketing. Mara ("The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo") holds the wild plot together with her quicksilver performance.
    It starts with frail Emily (Rooney Mara) feeling depressed when her husband Martin (Channing Tatum) finishes a prison term for insider
    Soderbergh puts a smooth polish on Scott Z. Burns’ script, which has some clever twists and sly commentary about pharmaceutical-industry marketing. Mara ("The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo") holds the wild plot together with her quicksilver performance.
    It starts with frail Emily (Rooney Mara) feeling depressed when her husband Martin (Channing Tatum) finishes a prison term for insider trading. Emily sees a shrink, Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law), who prescribes a new anti-depressant but the drug’s side effects include sleepwalking, or for Emily sleep-stabbing.
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  3. Feb 10, 2013
    7
    Although some of its "twists" and character relationships could be developed more clearly, "Side Effects" still comes through as a surprisingly engrossing thriller with fantastic turns from Rooney Mara and Jude Law.
  4. May 13, 2013
    9
    For an early season movie, Side Effects is exceptional. It's high intelligence and engrossing matter lets the audience join a thrilling experience, that once it's over you begin to see how crafty the film really is.
  5. Aug 3, 2013
    8
    Steven Soderbergh's Side Effects is a compulsively entertaining thriller. Rooney Mara and Jude Law give petrifyingly good performances. Thomas Newman's score is rapturous. It's a must-see.
  6. Sep 5, 2014
    8
    This was a very good and twisty thriller. Steven Soderbergh is great in the director's chair as usual. Jude Law and Rooney Mara are also the two main standouts in this cast, though Catherine Zeta-Jones and Channing Tatum are also strong in more supporting roles. This one really manages to keep you on the edge of your seat throughout the film with each twist and turn you do not see coming.This was a very good and twisty thriller. Steven Soderbergh is great in the director's chair as usual. Jude Law and Rooney Mara are also the two main standouts in this cast, though Catherine Zeta-Jones and Channing Tatum are also strong in more supporting roles. This one really manages to keep you on the edge of your seat throughout the film with each twist and turn you do not see coming. The writing here is splendid and the way the story is presented by Soderbergh is a major strength for this one. The cinematography is also strong here, as is usually the case in Soderbergh's films. The film does take many twists, some of them easier to figure out than others, but ultimately,it manages to keep things really interesting as this one could easily be categorized as many things; medical thriller, psychological thriller, crime drama, and a little bit of courtroom drama, all of which keep things lively and interesting. Overall, Side Effects is a very well made, low-key, and above all, entertaining film that will leave you more than satisfied. Expand
  7. Jun 2, 2013
    9
    A story with many twists and turns that hooked me from the start. I really thought that Jude Law gave one of his best performances in years and along with Rooney Mara this film is well put together.
  8. Feb 11, 2013
    7
    I had relatively modest expectations for this one, as Soderbergh has produced films of varying quality over the last few years (highs: Haywire Magic Mike; lows: The Girlfriend Experience Contagion). Side Effects is an interesting, twisty drama set against the backdrop of the mental health and criminal justice systems. Jude law is fantastic, and Mara is strong though not nearly as goodI had relatively modest expectations for this one, as Soderbergh has produced films of varying quality over the last few years (highs: Haywire Magic Mike; lows: The Girlfriend Experience Contagion). Side Effects is an interesting, twisty drama set against the backdrop of the mental health and criminal justice systems. Jude law is fantastic, and Mara is strong though not nearly as good as she was in Dragon Tattoo. Because this film is best experienced by those who don't know much about it, I'll leave it at that. Expand
  9. 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 twistsI 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! Expand
  10. Mar 9, 2013
    7
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. A wonderfully mature and adult thriller in which the puzzle is somewhat more satisfying than the resolution as it leaves a few uncertain conclusions. Jude Law is very good as the psychiatrist treating Rooney Mara's depressed patient and there are twists and turns in abundance; a shocking murder and a lot of debating the use of prescription drugs are just a few of the plot points that propel the story intriguingly forward. However, I must admit to some uncertainty about the conclusion which is lazily written. One gets the gist, but it is definitely not totally satisfactory. Good acting and a mood enhancing score from Thomas Newman add to the stylish effect. Expand
  11. May 13, 2013
    7
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. The side effects from a clinical trial on cortisone that the schoolteacher undertakes for his inflamed arteries doesn't so much bring about a new person into being, but rather, the miracle drug coaxes out the contemporaneous man who was there all along; a shackled shadow emancipated at long last, a projection made corporeal by a pill, in which Ed confronts his unfettered perceptions toward his hitherto role as the patriarch of a nuclear family, its bedrock. Cortisone, a then-experimental steroid prescribed by Ed's physician to treat the consummate husband and father, while not an anti-depressant, nevertheless, in Bigger than Life, performs as one, in the sense that the elixir offers the patient an omnipotent feeling akin to total well-being. But for Ed, the best version of himself doubles as the Avery family's worst nightmare, since his best version, the supposition that he is a pillar of the home and community, manifests itself as a facade that the cortisone excoriates; it's in fact, a truth serum, this pill, and the truth is, this congenial man, seemingly interpellated and calibrated to the languorous rigors of domesticity, suggests what George Bailey could have transformed into had the pecuniary windfall from his friends not come through: a cold-blooded murderer. Robin Wood, a film theorist, writing about It's a Wonderful Life, famously identified George as a "cowboy hero", encapsulated best in Mary's drawing entitled "George Lassos the Moon", an inadvertently cruel housewarming gift that accentuates how the natural born wanderer fell short of his goal, having never left the homestead, the city limits of Bedford Falls. In Bigger than Life, the cortisone is a salve which treats not only the malady that torments Ed, but it alchemizes the filmic text itself, as if the mis-en-scene was treated with the drug in a sort of celluloidal form, a latency, initially, gone undetected in the diegesis, gets diagnosed and is cured after a second opinion. Ed, home from work, passes the television room where Richie, his son, watches a western, then greets Lou, manning the kitchen like a good housewife, but along the way, he passes a map of the world hanging in the hallway. This unassuming atlas is an object in flux, rife with significance, after all, as when Ed, high on cortisone, alluding to the vagaries of his life's work, says: "I couldn't do it in an atmosphere of petty domesticity." Ed's disapproving facial gestures and especially his criticisms about Richie's inclination towards cowboy-oriented programming("Doesn't this stuff bore you?" he asks, adding, "It's always the same story."), once seen as abhorrence, now seems misread. Superimposed over the men and their horses, Ed sees his own face in the screen, turning the dialogue with Richie into a monologue, a soliloquy about the drudgery inherent in the multiple roles of the domiciled. Like Ed, addled on drugs, who nearly kills his family, Emily, too, is on something while she hatches her murder plot on Martin, her crestfallen husband. More powerful than Prozac, or in this case, the fictional pill Eblixir, it's money that manages Emily depression, better than any anti-depressant. Side Effects include: seducing a female psychiatrist, knowingly self-medicating one's self with a placebo: love, while allowing money's byproduct: greed, the quasi-drug's main property, as an excuse to stab a loved one with a knife under the bogus pretense of sleepwalking. Similar to Scottie Ferguson who falls for the gambit which has Madeline Elster walking around San Francisco as the dead modeling subject of a painting incarnate, Martin, as well as Emily's current attending physician, Dr. Banks, falls for the same somnambulist act too, with the difference being that the brains behind this money grab are women. Dr. Siebert's charge doesn't make the mistake of falling in love with her mark, like Madeline/Judy did with the acrophobic ex-detective. The money in Emily's offshore account, no doubt, prevents any residual feelings of tenderness towards Martin from happening. The husband, imprisoned for insider trading, unlike Scottie, never perceives that he's looking at a double, never notices that the Emily he married is dead. In a flashback, Side Effects shows us the couple at a lavish picnic, living the dream, just prior to the arrival of the police and Martin's imminent arrest. Side Effects is an inversion of the Vertigo: it recasts Judy as the femme fatale and Madeline as the woman in love. Bigger than Life, released in 1956, has a touch of Hitchc*ck, as well, when Ed tries to clothe Lou with haute coutre, the same French fashions that his colleague wears. He turns his wife into Pat. The cortisone decodes "push" into "f*ck"; it's not car ttrouble that Ed and Pat are talking about. Unlike Bound, in which the lesbian lovers choose love over money, for Emily, greed is by far the stronger drug, a side effect of capitalism. Expand
  12. Apr 2, 2013
    8
    It is one of those stories that have so many twists that as a result make you question everything you see and even though in retrospect the end result is a tad preposterous, Steven Soderbergh who like a puppet master plays the audience in his hands, pulls it off masterfully. Zeta Jones was the only dry performer in a film where both Mara and Law excelled, Burns' clever storyline and withIt is one of those stories that have so many twists that as a result make you question everything you see and even though in retrospect the end result is a tad preposterous, Steven Soderbergh who like a puppet master plays the audience in his hands, pulls it off masterfully. Zeta Jones was the only dry performer in a film where both Mara and Law excelled, Burns' clever storyline and with great score from Newman. Expand
  13. Mar 24, 2013
    8
    Like I said before, I'm not a fan of Steven Soderborgh. But I have to say, this one is truly (in my opinion) his best movie. I mean, he's made some good movies, such as "Traffic" and Ocean's Eleven", but unlike those two movies, this one really stands out for its suspenseful tale. He brings in some intensity in not only the story, but in the characters as well. I wish Soderborgh could makeLike I said before, I'm not a fan of Steven Soderborgh. But I have to say, this one is truly (in my opinion) his best movie. I mean, he's made some good movies, such as "Traffic" and Ocean's Eleven", but unlike those two movies, this one really stands out for its suspenseful tale. He brings in some intensity in not only the story, but in the characters as well. I wish Soderborgh could make more movies like this Expand
  14. Nov 13, 2014
    7
    "Side Effects" 10 Scale Rating: 6.5 (Decent) ...

    The Good: Great cast that doesn't disappoint. Gripping and entertaining for the majority of the film, the premise is a solid one. Makes some statements about mental health in our country and is a fascinating conversation starter. The Bad: As the plot unfolds, it becomes less and less plausible. It just gets to the point where it is
    "Side Effects" 10 Scale Rating: 6.5 (Decent) ...

    The Good: Great cast that doesn't disappoint. Gripping and entertaining for the majority of the film, the premise is a solid one. Makes some statements about mental health in our country and is a fascinating conversation starter.

    The Bad: As the plot unfolds, it becomes less and less plausible. It just gets to the point where it is hard to suspend belief. There was a great idea in there, but they went a few steps too far.
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  15. Jun 10, 2013
    8
    Extraordinary. Great actors. Great plot. Great director.Great twists.Great in general.Don't miss it you will lose a masterpiece. probably one of the sexiest films of the year A must-watch
  16. Aug 17, 2013
    8
    "Side Effects" is cleverly crafted in that you believe you're watching one type of film, when it's actually about something else altogether. "Side Effects" begins as if it were a modern-day problem movie, but then transforms itself. The twists are many, and ever-changing landscape of the film alters the path it takes on its road to resolution. "Side Effects" is really a sleekly constructed"Side Effects" is cleverly crafted in that you believe you're watching one type of film, when it's actually about something else altogether. "Side Effects" begins as if it were a modern-day problem movie, but then transforms itself. The twists are many, and ever-changing landscape of the film alters the path it takes on its road to resolution. "Side Effects" is really a sleekly constructed noir using the pharmaceutical industry as the backdrop.

    Taylor (Rooney Mara) is a 28-year-old graphic designer who looks somewhat adrift in her Manhattan apartment. She is awaiting the return of her husband Martin (Channing Tatum), sentenced to prison four years before for insider trading. The film starts up just before his release, a day she's eagerly awaiting. Once he's out, though, she seems unable to control her depression. Taken to the hospital, she's examined by a psychiatrist, Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law). He's concerned about her suicidal tendencies, but takes Emily's word that she'll start coming in for therapy and continue taking her medications, so he lets her go. Her psychiatrist Dr. Banks, after conferring with her old doctor, Dr. Victoria Siebert (Catherine Zeta-Jones), eventually prescribes her an experimental new medication he's consulting on, Ablixa.

    At first, "Side Effects" appears solely as Emily's story--following her through the withering exhaustion of adjusting medications, and dealing with the increasingly horrendous conditions they cause. And then, just as you have resigned to "Side Effects" as a blitz against our society's willingness to seek personal solutions in pills, the narrative veers sideways--and you never really see it coming. From there on, it's a game of shifting narratives and re-examined assumptions that contains more than a couple of decoys. The movie is content to keep viewers engaged by changing our perceptions of events and characters as the plot unfolds. This is what makes this film such a marvel and so difficult to discuss, but unquestionably worth the watch.
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  17. Jun 4, 2013
    9
    "Side Effects is a truly engrossing, edgy, seductive film and proves just how good Steven Soderbergh really is. Exciting and filled with unpredictable twist and featuring outstanding performances, Side Effects is the first great film of the 2013 year." A-
  18. Jun 8, 2013
    8
    Great thriller by Soderbergh, with another great turn by Rooney Mara, one of the more talented young actress around. It has a timely topic (i.e. are we relying on psychiatry and pills too much these days?) and twist them into a noir-ish thriller for the modern ages. I won't say too much in this review as it will spoil its surprises, but I highly recommend this, one of the Director's bestGreat thriller by Soderbergh, with another great turn by Rooney Mara, one of the more talented young actress around. It has a timely topic (i.e. are we relying on psychiatry and pills too much these days?) and twist them into a noir-ish thriller for the modern ages. I won't say too much in this review as it will spoil its surprises, but I highly recommend this, one of the Director's best effort in years. Expand
  19. Feb 24, 2013
    7
    The first half of the movie is intriguing and promising. Then it drifts away to a silly, predictable ending. Why Soderbergh chose to cater to the simple minded viewer after getting the attention of the serious minded viewer will remain a mystery. Vetting the script writer might have helped. The plot starts to fill up with bilge from the holes driven through it after the so called "Trial"The first half of the movie is intriguing and promising. Then it drifts away to a silly, predictable ending. Why Soderbergh chose to cater to the simple minded viewer after getting the attention of the serious minded viewer will remain a mystery. Vetting the script writer might have helped. The plot starts to fill up with bilge from the holes driven through it after the so called "Trial" and descends into an inane mystery detective plot. Roony Mara is a delight though and we await her getting a decent script to play around in. Iit had Jude Law and that should have been the giveaway Expand
  20. Feb 17, 2013
    9
    Side Effects is a very well done film. It has twists and turns that are actually surprising and it is reported by an excellent cast. The filming was good the writing was good and it was visually well done. Also as a Psychology major I found the plot extremely interesting! I would recommend this film to anyone.
  21. 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. ChanningDoes 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. Expand
  22. Feb 11, 2013
    7
    Saw this the other day with a friend, not expecting a whole lot. However, I demand that you go and see this movie. It's extremely well made and a great way to go out for Steven Soderbergh. Best film I've seen in 2013 so far.
  23. Feb 14, 2013
    9
    “Side Effects” is a movie, well, about side effects to prescription drugs. However, that’s just on the surface. When you delve deeper into this psychological thriller, it becomes more about the side effects to different choices we make, whether it be positive or negative. The effects it has on us and the ones around us. It is a fairly thought provoking film that let’s us take a look into“Side Effects” is a movie, well, about side effects to prescription drugs. However, that’s just on the surface. When you delve deeper into this psychological thriller, it becomes more about the side effects to different choices we make, whether it be positive or negative. The effects it has on us and the ones around us. It is a fairly thought provoking film that let’s us take a look into corruption.

    Steven Soderbergh is a great director, but his biggest complaint maybe that he takes a while to get his movies going. He takes his time to set stuff up, but rewards you at the end with a psychological mind *beep. The attention to detail is commendable, but at times certain things feel a bit contrived. However, when everything starts coming together, it all starts making sense and you can’t help but wonder why you didn’t see it before. The writing is top notch, but the dialogue is all to memorable. The shots are inventive, but feel classic Soderbergh, who always has unusual artsy camera angles. At the end of the day, it is a thought provoking and engaging story. Acting from the entire cast is fantastic. Rooney Mara gives a stunning performance. She has little quirks that make her character enthralling to watch. However, the biggest scene stealer for me is Judd Law, who gives a remarkable performance. He delivers his lines eloquently and with a British flair where you’re captivated by what he says. The whole cast is great and together they make the unmemorable dialogue sensational with their delivery. Overall, “Side Effects” is a engrossing movie that keeps you guessing till the very end. With Soderbergh’s fantastic direction and performances by a dedicated cast this film is a winner by all means. While it may feel disjointed and confusing in the beginning, it becomes entrancing when things start coming together leaving the viewers with a satisfying conclusion. This a great send off for Soderbergh and he will be remembered as a great director for years to come. I give it 4.5/5, well directed and performed film that is riveting. “Fetch Status”
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  24. May 17, 2013
    7
    Had low expectations, was pleasantly surprised! This movie is a slow burning thriller (more of a mind game), with same good performances (especially from Jude Law and Rooney Mara). There are no black or white characters here, just shades of grey leaning towards the darker tones. Also with some social criticism. Might be somewhat predictable, but the performances make it worth watch!…
  25. Feb 21, 2013
    10
    Side Effects is Soderbergh’s latest and last effort as a director and it is without a doubt that fans of the prolific filmmaker will be feeling symptoms of lost once the film credits roll on his latest masterpiece. Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara) is an unstable, beautiful young woman who is suffering from depression following her husband Martin Taylor’s (Channing Tatum) arrest [on their weddingSide Effects is Soderbergh’s latest and last effort as a director and it is without a doubt that fans of the prolific filmmaker will be feeling symptoms of lost once the film credits roll on his latest masterpiece. Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara) is an unstable, beautiful young woman who is suffering from depression following her husband Martin Taylor’s (Channing Tatum) arrest [on their wedding day no less] for insider trading. While Emily holds down payments on a little apartment in New York City, all the while attending therapy and struggling to find a pharmaceutical prescription that best fits her lifestyle, her depression worsens.
    Four years later, Martin is released, contributing more to Emily’s anxieties. Unable to mould in social settings, Emily takes matters into her own hands and attempts to commit suicide by driving into a brick wall. Bruised and battered, Emily begins a relationship with a new therapist, Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law). Detained at the hospital after her failed attempt at suicide, Dr. Banks agrees to release Emily under the sole condition that she begins treatment with him. Under Dr. Banks’ guidance, Emily goes through an array of various anti-depressants which leaves them no choice but to try a new experimental drug, recommended by Emily’s previous therapist, Dr. Victoria Siebert (Catherine Zeta-Jones) Ablixa. While under the powerful side effects of the new drug, Emily commits an unforgivable crime that leaves Dr. Banks’ life spiralling into utter chaos. The film undoubtedly is a work of collaboration, like many of Soderbergh’s previous works. Scott Z. Burns crafts an elaborately stylish screenplay and the performances by Mara, Zeta-Jones, Tatum and Law are spectacular in every way imaginable. But thanks to Soderbergh’s decision to retire from the medium prematurely, however brilliant everyone else is in the film, the movie’s’ focus is directly on him. Side Effects can be described as nothing short of artful perfection. Much like the effects of a poisonous fog, clouding the unfocused thoughts and blurry morals of ethical people, Side Effects is a remedy for self-awareness and clarity. Unorthodox in nature, and possibly being labelled as the first “pharma-noir” film of its kind, Side Effects is an atmospheric, tense and taught mystery film that sedates to pleasurable ends. Captivating in every frame and cunning with every cut, Side Effects is a modern day horror film founded in the deep realities of the lives of everyday people. As a character states in the film, “Rational people may see it like that, but I don’t see many rational people around” and Soderbergh’s underlining message is a self-reflexsive piece right and wrong. Is the authority that a doctor has over a patient more terrifying than assuming that people are naturally good in nature and thought—when they are not?
    Soderbergh is one of the few directors who always respects his audience and never dumbs his viewers down. Perhaps the greatest mystery that the film presents is why Soderbergh has decided to retire the camera for a paintbrush? And although Side Effects is his graceful farewell film and that notion is quite a bitter pill to swallow, it is just what the doctor ordered.
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  26. Feb 22, 2013
    8
    Great movies and great thrillers in particular should never be predictable. I don't want to instinctively know how the plot will twist and turn after seeing only the trailer. I had an inkling of where this one would take me but, found plenty of meat on the bone as it unfolded. It is hard to write a review for this film without including spoilers, so in broadest generalities this is aGreat movies and great thrillers in particular should never be predictable. I don't want to instinctively know how the plot will twist and turn after seeing only the trailer. I had an inkling of where this one would take me but, found plenty of meat on the bone as it unfolded. It is hard to write a review for this film without including spoilers, so in broadest generalities this is a great thriller with lots of good plot twists. I was drawn in to the angst of the situation, and received a commensurate payoff with the ending. Well done. Expand
  27. Sep 9, 2013
    7
    This was better than i expected. An engaging story, with many twists and turns. Great performances, especially from Rooney Mara. This is another stellar movie from director Steven Soderbergh.
  28. Oct 7, 2013
    7
    Looking Rooney Mara in this film I think that Mara is perverse nymph. Rooney conveys fragility and innocence. But, behind this supposed fragility there are dark sides, maliciousness and revenge. Soderbergh has done one of the best films in 2000's. "Side Effects" seems a Agatha Christie or Patricia Highsmith book.
  29. May 11, 2013
    10
    What a great way to go out with the best movie of 2013 I've seen so far. I loved the slowly unraveling serpentine plot that had us thinking it was an expose on Big Pharma and then it twisted in a totally different direction. Great acting too. A modern thriller classic.
  30. Nov 21, 2013
    9
    Drugs and depression. Steven Soderbergh takes both subjects head- on in Side Effects, a film that examines how the lives of a group of individuals inevitability become tied together by mental illness and chance.

    Emily Taylor’s (Rooney Mara) life is on the brink of total collapse. After waiting four years for her husband to get out of prison, her depression finally overtakes her. She
    Drugs and depression. Steven Soderbergh takes both subjects head- on in Side Effects, a film that examines how the lives of a group of individuals inevitability become tied together by mental illness and chance.

    Emily Taylor’s (Rooney Mara) life is on the brink of total collapse. After waiting four years for her husband to get out of prison, her depression finally overtakes her. She ends up in the Emergency Room after a failed suicide attempt. Here she encounters Doctor Jonathan Banks (Jude Law).

    Jude Law doesn’t seem a likely psychiatrist, but it doesn’t matter, he pulls it off and all the other characters fall into line around him; although Jude Law is the heart of the film, Soderbergh is undeniably at the helm here. He is the brain. Soderbergh’s characters habituate their New York City with 100% believability, believability so intense in fact, it is haunting.

    The viewer envies the characters and their glamorous lives, even more so as they destroy themselves. The viewer needs to remind themself that these characters do not exist, and this is a fiction, be it an excellently written one by Scott Z. Burns. As a screenwriter I watch this film as a lesson in how to build intersecting plot lines.

    Banks comes across as a doctor legitimately interesting in helping people, so when Emily claims to be living in a depressive fog Banks takes on the task of trying his best to help her. Emily’s condition begins to improve, but in the midst of the improvement tragedy strikes, and it threatens to bring down both patient and doctor.

    As a psychiatrist Dr. Banks did what psychiatrists do, he prescribed drugs. Then more drugs. Then even more drugs. Even though it seems absurd at times just how many medications are being dolled here, for anyone who has ever experienced psychiatric treatment, they will realize that these procedures are standard. So is this a jab at psychiatry’s habit of throwing handfuls of pills at people in mental distress? However mind-boggling it may be that the treatment for nearly every mental condition is medication, this film doesn’t come across as serious critique of psychiatric drugs, or the pharmaceutical industry.

    There is a fog covering the whole film, figuratively in the melancholic tone, and literally in the shades of grey of the cinematography. This fog further complicates an already complex plot, but once you can piece together what has occurred, as I did hours afterwards, you will not be able to shake this film’s dark presence.

    In the end it is not drug use that is being criticized here, but rather the avaricious soul-sucking void, the characters' needs to engulf their surroundings, and the sociopathic culture that made them this way.

    Amazing!
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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: 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Feb 9, 2013
    90
    Side Effects virtually demands a three-word review: Just see it.