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Generally favorable reviews- based on 247 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 17 out of 247

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  1. Apr 29, 2013
    This movie is extremely well done. Every element from story to acting works. It is tightly constructed, highly engaging and managed to hold the audiences attention the whole time. Rooney Mara is proving to be one of the greatest upcoming actresses as she plays the most fascinating and deceiving character in the film. Jude Law does a fine job and everyone else is good. Steven Soderbergh's superb direction and sense of pacing makes this one of the greatest thrillers I've seen this year. Then again, it is only February. Expand
  2. Apr 23, 2013
    A murder mystery film is something that has grown out of fashion in Hollywood as of late due to the plethora of procedurals on TV at the moment. However Steven Soderbergh uses this murder mystery template as a biting critique of the pharmaceutical industry, its just he didn't put as much thought into the story he was telling and because of this Side Effects is really quite dull. When Emily's (An extremely wooden Rooney Mara) husband Martin (Channing Tatum) is released from prison she seeks help for her depression from psychiatrist Johnathon Banks (Jude Law) and the drug he prescribes her has unforeseen side effects leading to a dangerous conspiracy filled with murder and lies. The main problem with Side Effects isn't the slow, and I mean really slow story, its that the film follows a lead character who is so badly acted its not even funny, it goes past the realm of unintentionally hilarious and becomes horrific. For an actress like Rooney Mara to go from marvelous in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo to this bad is shocking. Luckily the film swaps protagonists at the halfway point in favour of the brilliant Jude Law who proves yet again that he and Soderbergh work well together (after his gripping turn in Contagion in 2010). While Mara maintains her presence in the film the tone shifts when the story changes making for a much more engaging, more intelligent final act. That being said the film is filled with plenty to praise even with the Mara mistep. For example its casting is pretty great, except for the obvious. Catherine Zeta Jones proves why she is an Oscar winner with a small but vital supporting role, one made for her. Channing Tatum impresses with his small role too (much like he did in Soderbergh's Haywire). However the film suffers terribly by the pacing of the story and the fact the film is intentionally split into two. The fact that you can notice the split is because the first section is painfully dull and is extremely heavy handed with its social commentary. The second half lays back on the politics in favour of developing the central mystery and because of this it is enjoyable and at times surprising. It also doesn't hurt that Jude Law is on a role in terms of performances as of late making it slightly disappointing that he is part of a film that is only really half cooked. Expand
  3. Apr 19, 2013
    Understated and delicate lead performance by Mara was captivating, & Law played the ambitious, sincere, & desperate psychiatrist out to help and make a positive difference superbly as well. The film was paced and quiet, allowing the thrill to draw from the mysterious plot. Then there were the moments that demanded serious & considerate thought to be had, which always satisfies and intrigues this viewer (the movie was right up my alley, me being one to briefly aspire to become a forensic psychologist or paralegal). Jones' performance was quirky and tritely revealing from the get-go (I believe it was intentional for the viewer to never quite trust her character, the reason being as to keep us guessing and unsure of what the turn out would be). Another rumble in my mind as I was reflecting on the movie was the characterization of Banks' (Law's character) wife, who also seemed to have been deliberately presented as withdrawn, unsympathetic, high-strung, and high-maintenance, with only brief moments of appeal. Overall, I loved the canvas of characters and the touch of reality it presented in its quiet and ponderous tone. Expand
  4. Apr 8, 2013
    An incredibly surprising film that is written extremely well and is meant for film lovers only. Some may think its boring and overlong but they just don't appreciate well written and complicated films such as this one. Its a great film and another great entry from Steven Soderbergh.
  5. Apr 8, 2013
    I had high expectations towards this movie due to its high rating, but after watching, it totally disappointed me. The movie has a good plot, but it is too boring, draggy and it contains too many irrelevant scenes which should not be displayed. It lacks impacts or emphasis on scenes, which failed to attract my attention enough. It could've been better. Credits to the casts; especially Rooney Mara. But it's just not enough to make up to give credibility to this movie. Expand
  6. Apr 2, 2013
    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 with great score from Newman. Expand
  7. Mar 31, 2013
    Character development was completely neglected in light of an actually great narrative. Good choice of actors to portray all elements of the story, but ultimately weak in creating anything substantial.
  8. Mar 31, 2013
    Undeniably well shot and, to an extent, acted. However, 'Side Effects' labours under the misapprehension that it is far more intelligent than it actually is and jams the story together like ill-fitting puzzle pieces.
  9. Mar 24, 2013
    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 make more movies like this Expand
  10. Mar 22, 2013
    This movie is a red box movie I wouldn't waste the money to see it in theaters. it takes an interesting twist that leaves your scratching your head and letting out a little chuckkle. Roony Myra gives a good crazy chick preformance, like I said red box wortht.
  11. Mar 18, 2013
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. I really hope this isn't Steven Soderbergh's final film as it's a very disappointing end to a great career. What could have been a very entertaining thriller ended up being nothing more than a tacky TV thriller with terrible plot twists and even worse acting! You know something's not right when Channing Tatum is the best thing about a film! Expand
  12. Mar 17, 2013
    Clever plot, good acting. Hard to follow sometimes, and visually a bit unexciting, but pretty entertaining, adult entertainment anyway. Good turns from Jude La and Rooney Mara. Extra marks for not following predictable paths. Less marks for a moderately silly lesbian sub-plot that bordered on being pointlessly salacious. But still one of the better films of the year, so long as you pay attention to what is going on. Expand
  13. Mar 9, 2013
    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
  14. Mar 8, 2013
    Wow I was very surprised how good this film is. I went into the cinema thinking this might be good, it might not be but I'll enjoy it regardless. I left feeling very satisfied and desiring to discuss the ethical, societal and medical issues raised.

    What happens in the film is unexpected and the outcome is absolutely fitting. How it is executed and unfolds is a strength of the acting and
    the writing.

    I'll close by saying if you're interested go see it. You won't be disappointed, especially if you love films that have meaning, offer social commentary, and will spark discussion afterwards.
  15. Mar 2, 2013
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. What a disappointment! The story was so preposterous. It doesn't take a lawyer to know that a doctor cannot choose whether to testify for his patient or the prosecution. Duh patient-doctor privilege. He's not to say anything without the patient's permission. And what about the liability of the drug company? Those are just two of the ridiculous plot points. I wish I had walked out and done something worthwhile with my time. Steven Soderbergh, it is good you are retiring! Expand
  16. Feb 26, 2013
    I hated this movie. Total propaganda in favor of psychiatrists and the pharmaceutical industry. Plus the typical association of 'bisexual'/'gay' people with psychopathy. Lloyd deMause: the end of child abuse could eventually mean the end of much of the criminal system. As James Gilligan, a prison psychiatrist who has spent his life interviewing criminals, says in his findings:

    In the
    course of my work with the most violent men in maximum-security settings, not a day goes by that I do not hear reports of how these men were victimized during childhood. Physical violence, neglect, abandonment, rejection, sexual exploitation, and violation occurred on a scale so extreme, so bizarre, and so frequent that one cannot fail to see that the men who occupy the extreme end of the continuum of violent behavior in adulthood occupied an extreme end of the continuum of violent child abuse earlier in life. As children, these men were shot, axed, scalded, beaten, strangled, tortured, drugged, starved, suffocated, set on fire, thrown out of windows, raped, or prostituted by mothers who were their pimps. [James Gilligan, Violence: Reflections on a National Epidemic. New York: Vintage Books, 1996, p. 45.] Obviously the costs of improving child care are small compared to the enormous costs of the crimes produced by creating time bombs rather than useful citizens. Even the costs of the mental health system are a result of child abuse. As Brett Kahr found when he began to work in the back wards of a British psychiatric hospital with people diagnosed as "schizophrenics," I soon discovered that many of my patients had experienced profound death threats and attempts on their lives in childhood…One of my patients first entered a psychiatric hospital at the age of eighteen because his mother kept chasing him around the family home wielding a carving knife and shouting, 'I will kill him. I will kill him.'" [Brett Kahr, "Ancient Infanticide and Modern Schizophrenia." The Journal of Psychohistory 20(1993):269.]

    Brett's insights have recently been confirmed by major studies showing that the overwhelming majority of schizophrenics and other serious psychiatric patients were horribly abused as children and that their hallucinations were simply flashbacks to dissociated early abusive events. [John Read, Ed. Models of Madness: Psychological, Social and Biological Approaches to Schizophrenia. London: Brunner-Routledge, 2004; Richard P. Bentall, Madness Explained. London: New York: Penguin Global, 2005.]

    - Breaking Down the Wall of Silence by Alice Miller, pp. 142-143: who is there to help, when all the "helpers" fear their own personal history? And so we play the game of blindman's buff with each other--patients, doctors, medical authorities--because until now only a few people have experienced the fact that emotional access to the truth is the indispensable precondition of healing. In the long run, we can only function with consciousness of the truth. This also holds for our physical well-being. Bogus traditional morality, destructive religious interpretations, and confusion in our methods of childrearing all make this experience harder and hinder our initiative. Without a doubt, the pharmaceutical industry also profits from our blindness and despondency. The History of Childhood (Lloyd deMause): In studying childhood over many generations, it is most important to concentrate on those moments which most affect the psyche of the next generation: primarily, this means what happens when an adult is face to face with a child who needs something. The adult has, I believe, three major reactions available: 1. He can use the child as a vehicle for projection of the contents of his own unconscious (projective reaction); 2. he can use the child as a substitute for an adult figure important in his own childhood (reversal reaction); or 3. he can empathize with the child’s needs and act to satisfy them (empathic reaction).
    The projective reaction is, of course, familiar to psychoanalysts under terms which range from “projection” to “projective identification,” a more concrete, intrusive form of voiding feelings into others. Children exist only to satisfy parental needs, and it is always the failure of the child-as-parent to give love which triggers the actual battering.
    Projective and reversal reactions often occurred simultaneously in parents in the past, producing an effect which I call the “double image,” where the child was seen as both full of the adult’s projected desires, hostilities, and sexual thoughts, and at the same moment as a mother or father figure. That is, it is both bad and loving. Furthermore, the further back in history one goes, the more “concretization” or reification one finds of these projective and reversal reactions, producing progressively more bizarre attitudes toward children, similar to those of contemporary parents of battered and schizophrenic children.
  17. Feb 24, 2013
    Being one of the more story-centric movies this year, Side Effects is an outlier compared to other films like Die Hard, ect. This being said, it is not particularly great in it's storyline or pacing, but it is fun and interesting to finally see a decent movie that relies more on its character development than its's action or star line-up. The thing this film does best is certainly it's character development, and you literally see certain characters progressing or degreasing in their state of mind throughout the film, and it makes u greatly for its luke-warm story and plot. Expand
  18. Feb 24, 2013
    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
  19. Feb 23, 2013
    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! Expand
  20. Feb 23, 2013
    Side Effects allows style and intrigue to stay constant, while allowing character and plot development to run wild but not so wild to cause harm to the film’s effectiveness.
  21. Feb 22, 2013
    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 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
  22. Feb 21, 2013
    The first half of the film trumps the latter. The twist become a bit unrealistic. Law delivers a fine performance. Mara pulls off her role with ideal composure. A film that will appeal to our current medicated nation.
  23. Feb 21, 2013
    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 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.
  24. Feb 17, 2013
    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.
  25. Feb 16, 2013
    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.
  26. Feb 15, 2013
    For Rooney Mara fans, this was her best work thus far. Her character "acts" in the movie, and it just highlights her ability as an actor. The writers got a little lazy with some aspects of the movie, i.e., when Jude Law shows the video of her taking it. Unrealistic character flaws or reactions should not be a driver in moving the story along. Overall though, very nice twists.
  27. Feb 14, 2013
    “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”
  28. Feb 14, 2013
    I hope this is not his last film as it is not one of his better efforts. It starts out with a great deal of promise but when the plot has to be solved, it falters. The resolution seems rushed as if they ran out of ideas. The Jude Law character figuring it out and then Jones being so ignorant after being so cunning is just too unbelievable. I was hoping for better.
  29. Feb 14, 2013
    A great thriller, but in 2013 it's not much more than an episode of CSI. Literally, we felt like the first half was only there to prevent this from being wider recepted. Full review at
  30. Feb 13, 2013
    "Side Effects" is an intelligent, thought-provoking thriller for adult audiences the film is beautifully directed and acted, and the focused script keeps the action moving forward with few distractions. It's better NOT to know much about the plot, because the way in which it unfolds is one of the film's pleasures. That said, all four main Actors are excellent, with Jude Law and Rooney Mara outstanding. No knock to current cinema, but in an era of super heroes and vampires, it's nice to have a smart film for adults. Expand

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
    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
    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
    Side Effects virtually demands a three-word review: Just see it.