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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. Nov 21, 2014
    I felt that I was going to enjoy Side Effects when during the first half of the film but the topic started to get stale quick. Jude Law was well cast in his role but I wasn't really a fan of the rest of the cast. Side Effects was easy to follow but it was just a little too boring. I was shocked with the twist ending but it was just a little too long coming.
  2. Nov 13, 2014
    "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. Expand
  3. Sep 5, 2014
    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
  4. Sep 2, 2014
    Certainly not Soderbergh's finest work to date, Side Effects stretches far longer than it should. A close look at mind-play and criminal complexities, it lacks in convincing.
  5. Jul 11, 2014
    I didn't know anything about the plot before I watched it, and after an hour or so of watching Side Effects I thought I'd see some major plot twist that would surprise me. The premises were there: the film was decently long, the beginning was weird enough and some things were left unexplained. But then the actual plot twist comes around (not really well structured, in my opinion, there's too much of a jump between when Jude Law is complaining and when he realises there's a scheme going on) I was left with disappointment: it was, in the end, predictable and poorly delivered.

    On the other hand, the acting is good even if I didn't like Catherine Zeta-Jones at all, the dialogues too. The music and the cinematography are okay. I wouldn't say it's anything particularly interesting.
  6. Apr 5, 2014
    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.
  7. Dec 28, 2013
    Soderbergh's new thriller throws out one or two twists too many by the end, but remains unpredictable and engaging throughout. Rooney Mara's performance and the chilly score lend a memorable creepiness to the film.
  8. Dec 28, 2013
    Thriller captivant, des rebondissements du début la fin. Une intrigue bien ficelée, on est complètement immergé dans le film et dans le personnage. Bref excellent film
  9. Nov 21, 2013
    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.

  10. Oct 7, 2013
    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.
  11. Sep 9, 2013
    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.
  12. Aug 17, 2013
    "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.
  13. BKM
    Aug 11, 2013
    Side Effects is a well crafted murder mystery with an a ton of A-list talent involved, but in the end the twists and turns of the plot and the whole sleight of hand quality completely overshadow the characters resulting in a remarkably hollow viewing experience.
  14. Aug 3, 2013
    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.
  15. Jul 29, 2013
    This Soderbergh thriller fails to deliver the goods: it's slow, colorless and drowsy, very much like the medication they keep talking about in the film makes you feel. Jude Law certainly isn't bad (lesser actors would have made the movie even more boring) but even he can't save this one. Admittedly there are much worse thrillers out there but you can happily skip this one.
  16. Jul 14, 2013
    The movie starts as a conspiracy theorists wet dream about big pharma but goes later down another path. Unfortunately, the story is illogical and the plot tries bit too hard to be clever. Actors do a fine job, aside Catherine Zeta-Jones character is not a good fit for her.
  17. Jun 21, 2013
    So boring and predictable. After the first 20 minutes it was easy enough to catch the rest of the film. Obvious twist and dumb one at that. A real waste of time to say the least.
  18. Jun 18, 2013
    I’m a little late to the party, but better late than never for this clever piece of work. ‘Side Effects’, Steven Soderbergh’s final theatrical release, was a mesmerizing film that works as both a thriller and a social commentary on society's obsession with prescription medication. Without giving anything away; the film follows a woman and her psychiatrist, as their lives begin to change after a drug he prescribed to her yields some undesirable side effects. Rooney Mara and Jude Law did good jobs in their respective roles, but my favorite of the cast was Catherine Zeta-Jones who gave a chilly performance as a rivaling psychiatrist who adds multiple layers to the film's plot. Soderbergh directs this picture as effectively as possible; adding tight thrills and surprises, in tandem with a down tempo atmosphere which gave the film a noirish feel. Thomas Newman's score was also effective, adding a nice touch to the picture. While Soderbergh and his fine cast all did nice work the star of this show was probably Scott Z. Burns for his deliciously deceptive screenplay, which constructs an idea and gradually evolves it into an entirely new beast. His script blue prints all those twists, and successfully draws a band of interesting characters. While the twists and turns is one of the film’s biggest assets; it, ironically, may also be the movie's biggest downfall, as it doesn't allow for great repeat viewing. But fret not. As it stands, Side Effects was a rock solid movie, that most should appreciate quite easily. Expand
  19. Jun 10, 2013
    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
  20. Jun 8, 2013
    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 best effort in years. Expand
  21. Jun 4, 2013
    A good movie, the acting is really good, it’s not predictable as I expected to be, but I didn’t quite love the ending,a little to much for my liking. Everything else is very enjoyable.
  22. Jun 4, 2013
    "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-
  23. Jun 2, 2013
    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.
  24. May 31, 2013
    For a psychological thriller with a murder and a lesbian twist, it really is boring, but unsurprisingly stupid. A far-fetched script that is so inconceivable with so many plot twists just for the sake of keeping it interesting. After some decent performances and a list of every anti-depressant in the world mentioned, the movie is disappointing, even though I had no expectations going into it.
  25. May 20, 2013
    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. Expand
  26. May 17, 2013
    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!…
  27. May 13, 2013
    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
  28. May 13, 2013
    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.
  29. May 11, 2013
    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. May 8, 2013
    A recent cinema-going of SIDE EFFECTS, hyped as Soderbergh’s last theatrical release picture (what’s the hell with the BEHIND THE CANDELABRA’s Cannes screening?), it unites 3 Soderbergh’s regulars with a fresh new leading lady Rooney Mara, grapples with a suspicious somnambulistic murder case under the side effects of prescribed drug influence.

    Opening with a PSYCHO-tribute
    craning-and-tracking shot outside a residential building, patiently zooms in on one of the monotonous windows and reveals the blood stain left on the carpet (without notifying neither the perpetrator nor the victim), then jumps back to a 3-months-earlier flashback, Soderbergh certainly has his artistry in his stylish camerawork, and equally superb in dragging his audiences into the hazy mind state of Mara’s character, and keeps it captivating and seething with uncertainty and angst, blurs the boundary between truth and lies, steers its sharp point bluntly towards the pharmaceutical industry.

    Up until then, all the suspenses have been fully elicited, one can sense there is something fishy about the case, and the film shunts to another direction, with a fast pace of elucidation the crime hidden behind, a shopworn procedure but it is requisite for pandering to solve all the question marks inside viewers mind, the scheme our wronged shrink to turn both sides against each other is amateurishly exercised, which could be screenwriter Scott Z. Burns’s incapability to round out the story or Soderbergh is never a talented story-teller, if only the twist had been more scrupulously sanded down and the perpetrators’ motive and interplay (say, the insider trading part) should be more well-founded, even it finally reaches a feel good ending for the audience, the aftertaste is not totally satisfactory.

    Anyhow the film owns a killer cast (except someone who really should learn from Julianne Moore in CHLOE 2009, 7/10 how to kiss a girl), Rooney Mara has a unique distanced coolness in her blood which distinguishes her from the usual Hollywood cloyingness, and it does benefit her for meatier (especially with those have ambiguous attributes) offers and she is on her mettle in the film, versatile between her conflicting facets during the different phases. Jude Law, recollects his leading-man-ship in the film, a pro-medicine shrink with a sleuth acuity, also receive a welcome back, a tailor-made character, and he fits it with such ease. Channing Tatum sidesteps from the limelight this time whereas his Mr. Nice Guy image has been further amplified this time, don’t know it is a good thing or not.

    If this is Soderbergh’s swan song (or penultimate one), it doesn’t forebode well since it is an audience-courting film rather than his own auteur-seeking venture, if not, I will keep high hopes in his next projects (even if it means a long hiatus).

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.