Iffy for 16+
Thriller's twisty plot overshadows thought-provoking themes.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Steven Soderbergh's Side Effects is a twisty thriller centered on psychiatry and antidepressants. There's murder (by stabbing) and blood, as well as some argumentative, aggressive scenes in hospitals. The main character appears topless and mostly naked and participates in more than one strongly suggestive sex scene with her husband; there are also sensual scenes between two female characters. Language is strong but not constant and includes a few uses of "f--k" and "s--t." Drugs are perhaps the movie's main issue, with the main characters taking many different types of prescriptions and reacting in various ways. The movie never really seems to endorse or condemn these drugs, leaving it up to the viewer to decide. Older teens may find the questions the movie raises interesting, and it may open up important discussions with their parents.
- Families can talk about how Side Effects depicts prescription drugs. Does it make antidepressants and other medications look appealing? Do the consequences seem realistic?
- What is the movie saying about turning to medication as a solution for problems? How much work does the main character put into getting better, and how much of it is the responsibility of the pills?
- Talk about the major violent scene. How necessary was it to the story? Does it add or take away from the movie's themes?
- Which of these characters (if any) did you end up rooting for? Are any of them role models?
The good stuff
Messages: The movie raises thought-provoking questions about whether society is too quick to medicate our problems. It also raises questions about whether medication is necessary or effective.
Role models: Though one character starts out by genuinely trying to help another character in need, nothing is quite as it seems. The characters in this movie are mostly selfish, conniving, greedy, and even homicidal. They make poor choices and don't learn anything positive or grow in any positive way.
What to watch for
Violence: A bloody murder, via stabbing. It's foreshadowed in the opening minutes of the movie, with a trail of blood leading through a home. A character attempts suicide by crashing a car into a wall and puts herself in danger in another situation as well. Various scenes of arguing, screaming, and struggling.
Sex: The main character is shown topless and mostly naked. She has more than one sex scene with her husband, with sex noises and thrusting shown (male nudity isn't shown). A sensual kiss and sexual suggestion between a psychiatrist and her female patient.
Language: Language isn't constant but includes a few uses of "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "damn," "goddamn," and "oh my God."
Consumerism: Many actual antidepressants and other drugs are mentioned by name, and they're shown as consumer products that patients should desire. A fake drug, Ablixa -- complete with advertising (and a website) -- is part of the movie's plot. Red Bull, Yahoo!, Volkswagen, BMW, Rolling Rock beer, and Visine products/brand names are shown and/or mentioned.
Drinking, drugs and smoking: Though the movie isn't about substance abuse, it's heavily about the use of antidepressants and other prescription medications. It's also about the side effects of these drugs. The main character is shown to be on several different kinds of drugs, behaving in different ways. Overall, though, the movie never truly endorses or condemns these drugs. Social drinking by adult characters.
Fan Reviews provided by
Bipolar Puts it Best by MedRed
Side Effects has two very distinct halves.
The first part of the movie is slow, meticulous, and intelligent. From someone in the industry, it paints a very realistic picture of depression symptoms and the network surrounding treating patients. The camera work does an excellent job of relaying the state of the characters such as the use of blur to show a drug induced fog or fuzziness around the edges to highlight a lack of clarity from sleep deprivation.
The second half is not as polished as the first. As the pace picks up, the attention to detail relaxes. The audience is either made aware of plot points with a bull horn, or it is left to make mental jumps over ever widening chasms. The movie didn't balance in enough of the business aspect it alludes to to solidify the story. There is also an element that doesn't further the plot and only succeeds in making the story awkward. All in all, it's worth a watch...maybe two.
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It will keep you guessing! by sjwalsh97
We went to this movie for a date night...my husband picked it. I didn't know a lot about it, which was probably good. It was very interesting with lots of twists and turns, which I like. This is a movie that will stay with you after you leave. Slightly disturbing, slightly uneasy, slightly wondering if you really know and understand the whole story.
Smart. by mlr1012
Great film. Keeps you guessing. I gasped, along with the rest of the audience, several times. Mara, Law, and Zeta-Jones were phenomenal. If you do nothing else this weekend, go see Side Effects.
Say it ain't so! (derbergh) by scotticusmaximus929
To explain that cumbersome title, Soderbergh has said that "Side Effects" will be his last feature film. I hope he's just a little burnt out and needs a break, because this is excellent filmmaking. This is one of those movies I wish I had been completely in the dark on before seeing. However, one craptastic review I read spoiled a major plot point for me, but luckily that happens relatively early in the movie, so I still had the chance to be thrilled by the rest of this great story that brings the works of Hitchcock to mind. Soderbergh's direction and editing are as crisp ever, and the score by Thomas Newman is truly haunting and unnerving in a fantastic way. The performances are all fine, but Rooney Mara is the stellar standout. This girl is going to be a huge star; she has a truly captivating quality that leaves your eyes paralyzed on her whenever she's in frame. If you like real movies that are constantly changing and shifting and feel ALIVE, this one's for you
Keeps you guessing by Sikksnow
This was a well made movie with a strong storyline. The entire cast did a fantastic job, and should all be up for awards. Rooney Mara does not disappoint and the dynamic created with the cast was meticulously created. The start of the movie was a bit slow, but there is a lot of story that needs to unfold. The ending was great! Big 2 thumbs up, easily a 9 out of 10.
Two BIG thumbs down.... by mggoodman
I was really looking forward to seeing this movie and I was anticipating a storyline pertaining to...well...SIDE EFFECTS. I was utterly disappointed. While I loved Jude Law's character simply because he was the only redeeming part of the movie...the rest were lackluster at best. The movie was set up under the premise of side effects and ultimately they referred to one side effect (sleep-walking) and used a brief tidbit of discussion to justify murder. Last tidbit, Catherine Zeta Zones has always been one of the classier ladies in Hollywood. This time she compromised being the classy lady and the result was not some steamy scene, but honestly it was just tacky. No thank you!
Like a Good Episode of SVU by DCSoBe2NYC
Enjoyed this movie. It's nothing spectacular, but it had enough twists and turns to keep it interesting. Don't go in with high expectations and you'll probably get a kick out of it.
Side Effects by gwenfrye
I read prior reviews and was excited about this movie. What a boring movie!! I really did not care what happened to any of the characters. The twists did not do it for me. I go to the movies quite alot and this one was not worth seeing.
So bad... by pverde9901
if you must, just wait for it on DVD. The twist is about the only intersting 5 mins of this film.
Side Effects- do not waste your money by Fawn movie fan
This movie is simply awful! You see Rooney Mara's hangdog look for practically the entire movie and it's unbearable. Painful people painful. I wish I was warned before throwing money away for this piece of crap.