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on March 13, 2013
Side Effects is a film you can't really describe without giving anything away. Avoid the trailers if possible, make it through the slow build up and you will get quite a few surprises in the second half. Easily one of the best thrillers I have seen in a long time. Jude Law in his best performance in years as a psychiatrist and Rooney Mara, fresh off of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, knocks it out of the park again as his depressed patient. She has become one of my favorite actresses. Catherine Zeta-Jones is effective and Channing Tatum has little to do, but is adequate enough. Never boring and often surprising, if this is Steven Soderbergh's last movie, he went out at the top of his game.
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on July 14, 2013
It did start off slow as others stated. My Husband and I even took a break to come back to it the next day - we were falling asleep. We came back to it to finish it and so happy that we did! It was awesome! We went from going on a long drawn out buggy ride beginning to a bullet train ending. I won't give it away, but another reviewer did add (and we agree), you need the slow beginning to lay the foundation for the story. Pay attention to the details, the facial expressions of the main female character and others. It will all make sense and be worth it at the end.
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on March 26, 2013
***No spoilers follow***
Sure there are a few things that don't quite follow, but if you are a fan of the old Hitchcock and Twilight Zone episodes, you will appreciate this suspenseful puzzler of a movie. Centered around a psychiatrist, his depressed patient, and a fictional medication, things devolve into a murder which we witness. From there, we are never quite sure what is true and what is not. Entertaining, suspenseful, and sure, a few loose ends but who's counting? A fun way to spend an evening, and after the show, you can explain the twists to our companion!
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on October 2, 2013
When it first came out, I wanted to see it but it wasn't around very long. I managed to catch it on a flight back from Paris. Great Story! Great Acting and a great twist at the end. That wasn't enough so I had to buy it, to fully appreciate it.
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on August 23, 2013
I thought the idea was good but a few parts were just too unbelievable for me (I won't say which parts cause it would ruin the movie). It was still entertaining though, I just wouldn't spend the time to watch it twice.
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on May 18, 2016
An okay thriller. It has a lot of twists in it. The problem is that the ending doesn't work. I don't know how to explain why hypothetically, though, so here's a spoiler: SPOILER ALERT:.............................................................................................................................................Emily, who murdered her husband and pled not guilty by reason of insanity, wasn't really insane. She conspired with her former psychiatrist to kill him because they could make money this way via securities fraud. I won't go into how. Suffice it to say that, in the end, in exchange for being released from the mental hospital she agrees to help catch her partner and turn her in. Emily figures she might as well, because the trial is over and she can't be tried for murder twice.
That's true, but...she CAN be tried for conspiracy to commit securities fraud AND conspiracy to commit murder. Neither of these depend on a guilty or innocent outcome in the original case.
Nobody mentions this, however.
Another problem is that there don't seem to be any social workers or patient advocates here. The main character (a psychiatrist) makes the unilateral decision to remove Emily from the hospital to help implicate her former partner, then to punish Emily, he puts her back in. Then his life just continues. Nobody seems to notice he is doing this? He's using patients to solve legal cases. And he's not a police officer or a lawyer.

It just doesn't make sense.
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on July 30, 2013
Side Effects is a story within a story. One is about the possible side effects of OTC's (Yes, over the counter has to be included) and in this case Prescription Medications and the other story is about greed, lust and revenge. I loved the premise of this story that involves the side effects of medications that range from itching to death and the possibility of murder.

This story is very well acted by all with Jones (Dr. Seibert) and Law (Dr. Banks) taking their roles to heart and their co stars preforming equally well. The direction and the story is where this movie takes a hit by allowing the typical Hollyweird junk in to spoil this story somewhat.

I will try to be careful and not spoil to much if any of the story by detailing the rediculous actions that the director/writer allowed to take place. I know they do some of these stupid things so the can keep the stars in the spotlight and or directly involved in the story, but come on lets try and get somewhat real! Dr. Banks has a ethical and moral conflict with his patient Emily (Rooney Mara) that has caused him so much trouble and yet he is still treating her? Dr. Banks does some pretty crazy things that shall we just say are a little OTT (over the top) and not very well planned or thought out for his problems. The DA's actions and reactions to Dr. Banks initial meeting about his findings involving Emily's case was not quite believable considering what he did. The DA just wanted to forget about everything and let to case run its course. WTH?

The story was not as well thought through as it should have been and instead of a really intelligent and thought provoking thriller with an extremly talented and attractive cast we have a good thriller with an extremly talented and attractive cast.

I'm not sure if the clues were given to us to let us know that something was up with Emily or if they were just oversites. Two really stuck out and smacked me in the nose. One was when Emily was at work and the other was a cop. I am not saying what happens or how it happens just what to look for. There are others, but these really stuck out. For me it would have been much better not getting any clues whether intended or not.

The story does have a few twists, but they just don't live up to a Hitchock type thriller/mystery moment or movie for that matter. I think everyone will enjoy the ending to this a little better than average movie with its talented cast.

I will give this a 3.5 star rating for the acting and an ok story that had a lot of promise, but suffered from some strange SIDE EFFECTS1

Rating 0 to 5

Story = 3
Acting = 4+
Direction = 3
Thriller/Mystery = 3
Gore/Violence = 1
Sex/Nudity = Yes/Yes limited to 3 scened I believe.
Cursing = Yes, but very sparingly
Entertainment Value = 3.5
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on June 9, 2013
Mara is very convincing as a depressed wife of Tatum, who destroyed their wealthy lifestyle and caused her miscarriage after his arrest for insider trading. After his release from a four year prison term, he returns to a suicidal and drug-addled wife. Law enters as her psychiatrist trying to find the right chemical cocktail to fix what ails her. Nothing works and he consults with Zeta-Jones, her former psychiatrist, who is not particularly empathetic or helpful. Suddenly Mara, in a sleepwalking fog-a side effect of her latest drug, Ablixa-stabs and kills Tatum. She gets off the murder charge on an insanity plea due to the drug and has to do a stint in a psych ward, where she begins to improve dramatically. Law's professional and personal life go to hell as he is blamed for prescribing it. He detects discrepancies in Mara's statements and behavior, however, and begins to smell a rat. As he works to exonerate himself, he must step outside legal and professional boundaries and , in doing so, appears somewhat unhinged himself.

This film could have been so much better. The plot is interesting and fairly intricate enough to draw you in. I think the casting was the issue. First, if you are a Tatum fan, he has nothing to do here. He barely appears and is dead early on. A little more development of Mara and Tatums's relationship might have been helpful. There is a flashback that attempts to do this but it is not fleshed out. Rooney Mara is excellent at developing her character from severely depressed to calculating. Jude Law does a good job of keeping you on the fence about just who he is. Is he a good guy? Is he a competent doctor or a little careless and money-grabbing? Perhaps he is just a little attracted to Rooney, the desperate little bird? It bothered me that Law and his wife had no chemistry and she walked at the first bump in the road. However, Zeta-Jones was the real problem for me. She was so brittle and so plastic from the beginning, not to mention more gorgeous than any doctor you've ever seen, it was a "tell" a clue in a card game. I suspected her immediately and therefore saw early on where the plot was going. If her character had been played as an earth mother type who had great insight, concern, and caring for her former patient, the plot twists would have been less exposed. I think the goal in this plot is to keep you thinking Law's character is flawed on several levels, and believing Mara's character is a victim of the medical community. Zeta-Jones waves a big red flag that says "hey, I'm in on the plot twist". Finally, the trap Law sets for Mara is satisfying but the ending itself seemed emotionally vacant.
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on August 5, 2013
Amazing cast, gripping direction both make this one of the best thrillers I've seen outside of Hitchcock of course. This director takes quite a few lessons from the master as a matter of fact. I suspect Rooney Mara will get an Oscar nomination for her part.
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on March 21, 2013
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Steven Soderbergh's 'Side Effects', first appears as if it's designed as a critique of psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry. Ultimately, it becomes more like a Hitchcock thriller. It's a film that keeps your interest but you'll have to suspend your disbelief quite a bit, to appreciate it.

Rooney Mara (looking quite more appealing than her stint as angry Goth in 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo'), plays Emily Taylor, a seemingly depressed wife of her husband Martin (Channing Tatum), who has just come home after doing four years in prison for insider trading.

When it appears that she tries to kill herself by slamming her car into a wall in a parking garage, she's assigned to a psychiatrist, Dr. Jonathan Banks (winningly played by Jude Law). Banks is a fairly typical psychiatrist who prescribes one psychotropic medication after another, hoping that Emily's mood will change. Still feeling forlorn, Banks consults with Emily's former psychiatrist, Victoria (Catherine Zeta-Jones) who recommends that Emily be placed on a new experimental drug, Ablixa. Banks takes the pharmaceutical company's money and convinces Emily to participate in the study.

The stakes are raised when seemingly despondent Emily stabs husband Martin to death but claims she can't remember anything and blames everything on the Ablixa. Suddenly, Banks is no longer the complacent psychiatrist but is now a scapegoat, as the press blames him for dispensing the medication which everyone assumes is the cause of Emily's violent outburst. His patients start leaving him in droves and he's investigated by the State Licensing Board. Furthermore, the pharmaceutical company drops him as one of the testers of the Ablixa study.

Soon, Banks figures out that there's something much more sinister underfoot. Like Hitchcock's 'Wrong Man', he now must clear his name. As Emily has taken a plea bargain in which she pleads guilty by reason of insanity, Banks is assigned to be her psychiatrist at the Ward's Island Criminal Psychiatric facility, and has full say as to whether she will be eventually released or not. And here is where I had the biggest problem with this film. If Banks' reputation is so in tatters (he's been smeared in the press) and the state licensing board is investigating him, why would the court even entertain the idea that he should continue to be involved with Emily? And without this caveat, the film's denouement, could never develop as it does.

So let's suspend our disbelief over this major plot point and see whether the rest of 'Side Effects' has any more credibility. As it turns out, Banks does indeed figure out that Emily was faking all along that she was depressed. He also discovers that Banks turned out to be the former lover of her former psychiatrist, Victoria, who convinces Emily to participate in an incredible scheme to drive the stock price down of pharmaceutical company who's been promoting Ablixa. By selling short, Emily and Victoria end up making a bundle but once Banks figures everything out, he forces Emily to wear a wire and rat out Victoria.

It's pretty much a fantastic scheme and again it involves more suspension of disbelief, since it's not guaranteed that the stock price will go down that much, where the two schemers, will actually make a big profit. Nonetheless, it could remotely happen. Banks being in cahoots with the Assistant District Atttorney to turn Emily but then falsifying her personality profile and illegally ordering her to take mind numbing psychotropic medications such as Thorazine, to shut up her up, seems beyond the pale. Would an ADA risk his job to participate in such an illegal, revenge scheme? I hardly think so.

It's also a bit ironic that a psychiatrist who exceeds his authority by authorizing the administration of psychotropic medications when they are not needed, appears justified, since the patient in question, has gotten away with murder. Whether you like this final scenario or not, one wonders why Emily didn't have an attorney who could have worked to expose Banks' illegal actions. It just seemed a little too easy in the way that Banks, along with his allies, so easily were able to keep Emily as a zombie (all doped up with her medications), without any other third parties becoming involved in her case, and perhaps discovering that the 'good guys' (i.e. Banks and company), were suddenly doing a bunch of bad things.

'Side Effects' is a passable 'Hollywood-type' thriller. It has the requisite good acting and interesting plot reversals, but ultimately not everything adds up.
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