Side Effects movie review - Aussieboyreviews


Steven Soderbergh’s film begins as a drama about a woman experiencing unexpected side effects from a prescribed drug, but turns into a twisty court case crime-thriller lead by a psychiatrist. This is an unconventional film that isn’t what you think.


A young woman begins to experience unexpected side effects from a drug prescribed by her psychiatrist, leading to the lives of several people flipping upside down.

Movie Images

Movie details

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Cast: Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Channing Tatum, Polly Draper
Writer: Scott Z. Burns
Release Date (Australia): 28 February 2013
Runtime: 106 minutes/1h 46m
Genre: Drama, Crime, Thriller
Country: USA
Language: English

CONTENT GUIDE (warning: May contain spoilers)

Themes (M)

The film’s themes are mainly concerned with a young woman experiencing side effects from a drug prescribed by her psychiatrist.  Thematic content includes themes of and references to mental illness, suicide, murder and blackmail. 

Violence (M)

The film contains a scene in which a man is stabbed and killed, with accompanying blood detail.

Coarse Language (M)

The film contains occasional use of the words “f**k”, “s**t”, “bitch” and “damn”.

Drug Use (M)

The film contains drug themes and features characters experiencing side effects of prescribed drugs.

Nudity (MA15+)

The film features female breasts and brief frontal nudity during a sex scene.

Sex (MA15+)

The film features two sex scenes with graphic thrusting detail and brief nudity, as well as moderate verbal sexual references.

mpaa rating

R (for sexuality, nudity, violence and language)

Aussie boy's thoughts

Steven Soderbergh’s twisty drama about a court case, prescription drugs and fatal side effects may be one of the most unconventional films of the year. This review will not contain any spoilers or major plot points, but please note that this movie is so much more rewarding and surprising for those who go in knowing nothing. It’s a very Hitchcock-like movie, with very little action and lots of talking. Lovers of movies should NOT skip this one.

This movie is just never what you think it is, and when you feel like you know where it’s headed, it immediately changes direction and becomes much more fascinating. For a short while, the film is centred on Rooney Mara as a young depressed woman handling her husband, played by Channing Tatum, being released from prison after four years. We get some more development for the characters and story, with our inciting incident following behind, kicking off the main plot and shifting the focus from Rooney Mara to her psychiatrist, played by Jude Law, now dealing with a court case.

Side Effects is one of those films that will rivet and entertain some, while others will be bored out of their minds. At least 95% of this film is dialogue, arguing and many conversations between characters, with clever twists eventually coming around and giving this movie great rewatch value. If you need action every 10-20 minutes, this is not the film for you. Soderbergh directs this thing brilliantly, and what makes it work almost perfectly are the performances and the script. All of the dialogue is very realistic, and it’s pulled of wonderfully by the actors.

Rooney Mara and Jude Law are absolutely fantastic in the movie. Channing Tatum takes on a very small segment in Side Effects and doesn’t get much to work with, but he’s convincing when he’s onscreen. But another stand-out performance comes from Catherine Zeta-Jones, who plays Mara’s previous psychiatrist. And although she doesn’t show up as early as the three other characters, her work is absolutely mesmerising. But these aren’t characters you’re designed to take liking to, which is another very interesting aspect of the film. Overall, Side Effects is twisty, clever, engaging, and you should definitely watch it or at least check it out if you can handle slow-burning stories loaded with talking.

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