Side Effects (2013)Closed Captioning
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From Academy Award® winning director Steven Soderbergh (Traffic) comes this suspenseful and provocative tale of intrigue starring Channing Tatum, Academy Award® nominees Rooney Mara and Jude Law, and Academy Award® winner Catherine Zeta-Jones. After her husband (Tatum) is released from prison, Emily (Mara) begins suffering from terrifying anxiety and turns to psychiatrist Dr. Banks (Law) for help. But when Banks prescribes an experimental drug for her, the side effects have chilling and deadly consequences. Full of unexpected twists, Side Effects is the sexy psychological thriller that critics are calling “wildly unpredictable!” (Marlow Stern, Newsweek)
Movie Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes
- Reviews Counted: 195
- Fresh: 162
- Rotten: 33
- Average Rating: 7.3/10
Top Critics' Reviews
Rotten: Once Side Effects gets into its crime story, medication is swept aside by movie nonsense. The storyline goes into tangles that have to be dealt with very rapidly if the audience is not to start laughing.
Fresh: The feature evolves from an icy, haunting tale of depression and abandonment into a squalid, sordid, serpentine Alfred Hitchcock pastiche. That it can glide from these two poles with us barely realising is a testament to Soderbergh's talent.
Fresh: 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.
Fresh: Opts for raucous frivolity over genuine substance. But it's great fun while it lasts.
A CRAFTY THRILLER WITH PLENTY OF TWISTS AND TURNS
Throughout his lengthy and largely impressive career as a director, Steven Soderbergh has delivered several flicks of wildly different genres, but in "Side Effects," which he has gone on to say will be his final film, he's successfully created a picture that is at least three distinct genres all rolled into one. At first what seems like a typical issue-based drama quickly escalates into a deeply engrossing, highly disturbing mystery that'll leave you with more questions than answers, and that, in turn, devolves into a clever example of surrealistic mayhem. The way that Soderbergh and writer Scott Z. Burns morph from one tone to the other is so mercilessly entertaining and consistently unexpected that it's almost impossible not to feel engaged in what's going on the entire time. And clearly, the whole cast is having just as much fun playing along with the twist-filled script as the filmmakers are. Sure, the flick faces a few narrative bumps along the way, but when you have a story this cunning and complex, it's very hard to lose.
The movie starts as an exposé on psychotropic drugs as Emily (Rooney Mara) struggles with a severe case of depression after her husband Martin (Channing Tatum) is released following a four-year prison term due to insider trading. Emily's therapist Dr. Banks (Jude Law) prescribes a series of anti-anxiety pills to help her, adjusting the medication until all the side effects even out. But something still isn't right, and a fatal incident leads to an all-out criminal trial. Eventually, Banks begins his own investigation into the case, consulting Emily's previous therapist (Catherine Zeta-Jones). But the fallout from all of this is threatening both his career and his personal life. Will Banks be able to save his reputation and discover the hidden past of his former client before it's too late?
Soderbergh gives the film a dark, seductive quality that's both easily distinctive and stylistically irresistible, with his own muted cinematography and witty editing, plus an enjoyably tense score by Thomas Newman. This allows the cast to create layered characters who can consistently surprise us along the way. Law manages to hold our sympathies as a desperate man trying against all odds to get his life back, while Zeta-Jones' role is as icy, dismissive, and uneasily suspicious as can be until she takes a surprisingly lively turn about halfway in. Tatum, on the other hand, isn't in the movie for very long (I won't dare reveal how or why), but he still makes the most of his supporting performance for the limited time he has. Though, when it comes down to our standout star, it's Mara who shines in a deliberately tricky and chillingly unpredictable role. Even as Emily's world seems to shift and collapse around her, she reveals an astonishing array of emotions and intentions that slowly reveal who her character truly is.
In a way, it feels like Soderbergh and Burns set out to make a serious, in-depth drama about the world of big pharmaceutical companies, structured like "Traffic" and "Contagion," then decided that a sleazy, twist-filled thriller would be a lot more fun and engaging. And indeed it is, especially since the countless twists and turns that constantly seem to come out of nowhere as it moves along gradually reveal the story's insidious intentions. Sure, there are references to the inherent dangers in our money-driven pharmaceutical system, but this film is like one of those slick thrillers from the '80s and '90s in that it plays with real societal issues while sending chills down our spine with a gleefully deranged plot. Of course, the script does suffer from some lackluster pacing and more than a few overly convoluted expository scenes where the characters are left to explain their actual previous intentions in full detail for the audience to fully understand them, and while those issues do prove to be problematic at times, they don't distract from the overall experience. Even if you aren't the biggest fan of Soderbergh's work, I still recommend giving "Side Effects" a chance. It's a smart, intense mystery-thriller full of puzzling twists, skillful performances, and plenty of visceral visual flair. This definitely isn't a flick for the faint of heart, but if you appreciate movies not just for their style, but also their substance, it's at least worth a solid rent.
Very slow and dull...
Not sure why this is so highly rated - be prepared for a dull story line.
What a great plot. I was pleasantly surprised. I never write reviews.