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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Rooney Mara
Channing Tatum
Jude Law
Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Directors
Steven Soderbergh.
Screenwriters
Scott Z. Burns.
Running Time
106 minutes

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Side Effects
Goodbye Steven Soderbergh, we hardly knew ye


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Plot
Emily Taylor (Mara) welcomes the release of her husband Martin (Tatum) from prison. As the couple readjust, she struggles with depression and is assigned to psychiatrist Jonathan Banks (Law). Yet when Banks prescribes new drug Ablixa, Emily’s behaviour takes a startling turn for the worse.


Review
Side Effects
Side Effects, the latest in Steven Soderbergh’s series of “final” films, pulls the old switcheroo before you’ve settled into your seat. Scripted by Scott Z. Burns, who penned The Informant! and Contagion, it looks like it is going to fire broadsides against the pharmaceutical industry, a kind of Traffic on prescription.

Yet it isn’t. In a superb use of directorial persona-as-misdirection, Side Effects isn’t in the message business. Instead it is a thrill ride for grown-ups, suspenseful, whip-smart and crammed with surprises.
The hows and whys of this are best discovered for yourself. Suffice to say that Side Effects starts on a note of horror, rewinds to take in a portrait of clinical depression and mutates into a gripping Hitchcockian potboiler. As genre flicks go, it is pregnant with provocation — Jude Law’s powwows with the drug execs about consultancy fees are the stuff of high satire — and layered with need, greed and deception at every level.

Yet you never feel the burden of this. Soderbergh directs with a mixture of clinical precision — look at the artful succession of shots that cover a car smashing into a wall — and the zip of an old-school Hollywood journeyman. He also elicits great work from his talented ensemble. In her first lead since The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Rooney Mara expertly vacillates between the chilly and the vulnerable, Tatum brings shadings to a solid lunk and yet, as it progresses, this becomes Jude Law’s picture, a paradigm of over-eager benevolence in the first reel, something quite different in the last. If it does turn out to be Soderbergh’s last flick, this does feel like a summing up of sorts: a woman on a shrink’s couch (sex, lies, and videotape), twisty-turny narratives (The Underneath, Out Of Sight), the effect of a depressed economy on human beings (The Girlfriend Experience, Magic Mike), and Catherine Zeta-Jones (Traffic) as Mara’s previous psychiatrist. Yet it doesn’t feel reheated. It has the vim and vigour of a debut.


Verdict
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.


Reviewed by Ian Freer

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Side Effects
Empire Star Rating

RE: Side Effects

Soderbergh is less interested in making statements than he is in skillfully fulfilling genre expectations. ... More

Posted by chang at 12:04, 31 December 2013 | Report This Post


"Here I am. Cured at last."

Assembling a bevy of talented actors and working from a smart script by Scott Z. Burns, director Steven Soderbergh crafts an intelligent, deliberately paced psychological thriller. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by movienut707 at 15:42, 20 November 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Side Effects

Spoilers as I attempt to answer the questions of the post above. was declared sane but not at the time she committed the crimes. Once Jude Law had her as a patient she was entirely at his mercy. He declared her sane on his terms to have her released from the institution she was in but as soon as she attempted to rebel against him he declared her insane again. Once she was in the asylum at the end she was never getting out any aspect of her behaviour could be declared by Jude Law to be a ... More

Posted by squeezyrider at 10:40, 16 September 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Side Effects

I just finished watching this. I wasn't expecting the film to take the direction it did - which I thought was a good thing. MASSIVE SPOILERS. Two things that bothered me though, did Emily end up in a psychiatric unit or prison? If it was the former, that wouldn't have made any sense because she was sane (well, to a degree) when she was carrying out those actions. And did Jude Law get away with the money? I hope not or that wouldn't have made sense either. All in all though, ... More

Posted by Sumintelligentguy at 01:19, 12 August 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Side Effects

I enjoyed this - as mentioned above it starts out like an attack on the pharmaceutical industry then twists into a revenge-noir thriller and doesn't jar at doing so. The one character/performance that didn't sit right for me was Vanessa Shaw as Bank's wife... not once did she even consider giving him the benefit of the doubt and as Mrs UTB said to me, "I'd have been pissed but I would have still let you try to explain it...". Still, a good thriller nonetheless. ... More

Posted by UTB at 10:46, 04 August 2013 | Report This Post


Side Effects

http://filmfanboy.com/side-effects/ Steven Soderbergh is in the zone right now, a master of genre with the capacity and creativity to tell a narrative story differently. He reveres directors as diverse as Richard Lester to Jean Luc Godard. But one of his favourite directors is Howard Hawks who had that rare capacity to make great films across different genres. From His Girl Friday to Rio Bravo to the original Scarface. Hawks worked until his early seventies but Soderbergh has decided to quit ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Conboy at 15:42, 08 June 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Side Effects

Side Effects starts out as an intriguing thriller on the impact of prescription drugs on a young lady suffering from depression (Rooney Mara). A twist part way through both shocks and ups the ante, but before long it becomes increasingly far-fetched, as Jude Law’s psychiatrist is plunged into full-on downward spiral, as his role is near reversed with that of his patient. Twist is layered onto twist to the point that the one is left wondering as to what film they are actually watching. By the en... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Axel Foley at 15:42, 16 April 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Almost a classic

Revenge is a dish best served via prescription ... More

Posted by Hood_Man at 17:47, 24 March 2013 | Report This Post


Almost a classic

Engaging and well acted, Law is a joy. Curiously as the plot unraveled, I found myself wondering which revelation I had already sussed, which made me feel part of the movie in a way not experienced since The Sixth Sense or Momento. Given the the way the movie plays out in the final act, a cleverer script would have written the good Dr Banks's lover as a supporter with a hand in solving the mystery, rather than the unthinking unbeliever running for the hills. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by FiveFive at 15:24, 21 March 2013 | Report This Post


The 'whodunnit' is nicely executed; the 'whydunnit', not so much.

While I genuinely believe Mara's performance in this film is nothing short of outstanding, everyone else seems to be largely phoning it in (with the exception of CZJ, who seems to be aiming even lower by reprising her role from Rock of Ages, but without singing). All in all, Side Effects works well enough, but it's nowhere near as smooth as it'd like to be. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheMightyBlackout at 23:41, 20 March 2013 | Report This Post


Side Effects

Steven Soderbergh is in the zone right now, a master of genre with the capacity and creativity to tell a narrative story differently. He reveres directors as diverse as Richard Lester to Jean Luc Godard. But one of his favourite directors is Howard Hawks who had that rare capacity to make great films across different genres. From His Girl Friday to Rio Bravo to the original Scarface. Hawks worked until his early seventies but Soderbergh has decided to quit as he edges fifty. This is sad news fo... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Conboy at 02:15, 19 March 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Side Effects

It’s been over twenty years since his terrific film debut Sex, Lies and Videotape, and over the course of director Steven Soderbergh’s career in which he has made a film (or two) once a year, he has decided to call it quits and move on to different things. As we wait for his made-for-TV Liberace biopic with Michael Douglas as the flamboyant pianist, Soderbergh makes his send-off from the big screen with a psychological neo-noir about medicated America. With her husband (Channing Tatum) out... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by R W at 15:24, 13 March 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Side Effects review and critique

L: My Dream Tank Read the full review and critique at MyDreamTank.co.uk http://mydreamtank.co.uk/?p=431#more-431 fects is Steven Soderberg’s last film and Matthew ‘Mr Soderbergh,k this scene might be a good opportunity to take my shirt off’ McConaughey is nowhere in sight. The film follows an unorthadox structure and tone for a Hollywood movie, which is fairly common now for Soderbergh. But in its unique way it is exciting, thrilling, engaging and suspenseful. There are a few... More

Posted by ElephantBoy at 12:35, 10 March 2013 | Report This Post


Side Effects review and critique

Side Effects is Steven Soderberg’s last film and Matthew ‘Mr Soderbergh, I think this scene might be a good opportunity to take my shirt off’ McConaughey is nowhere in sight. The film follows an unorthadox structure and tone for a Hollywood movie, which is fairly common now for Soderbergh. But in its unique way it is exciting, thrilling, engaging and suspenseful. There are a few Soderbergh movies I haven’t seen, but this is definately my favourite from him – a good way to go out. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by My Dream Tank at 00:42, 10 March 2013 | Report This Post


great movie

Great movie. Rooney is terrific. And - surprisingly - Law is too. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tysmuse at 00:26, 10 March 2013 | Report This Post


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