Side Effects (2013) Review

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Been putting off reviewing this because I really don’t know how to go about it. It’s a hard plot to discuss at all without ruining the entire movie. Directed by Steven Soderbergh (supposedly his final film), Side Effects is about a depressed girl (Rooney Mara) who, after a suicide attempt, is prescribed a new drug by her psychiatrist (Jude Law). It also stars Channing Tatum as the girl’s husband and Catherine Zeta-Jones as another psychiatrist.

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I won’t go into the plot at all – I’ll just discuss the performances and what I liked about the movie. I don’t think I’m giving anything away by saying this is a psychological thriller and has a Hitchcock feel to it (as every review I’ve seen seems to say the same thing). I love Hitchcock and I love a good twisty-turny thriller that keeps you constantly guessing through the whole thing. There are so few quality movies in this sort of genre nowadays so I found Side Effects very enjoyable.

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As for the acting, I thought everyone did well in their roles. I thought Rooney Mara was the highlight of the movie. I’ve not seen her in her biggest role (Dragon Tattoo) but I can see how she was probably the perfect choice for the role of Lisbeth Salander – I’m looking forward to watching that now. But I have sort of a thing for “cold & aloof”. Both her Side Effects & Dragon Tattoo characters are that way so I’m not sure how great she’d be playing a different sort of character. And the “don’t give a fuck” attitude can get annoying after a while (smile Kristen Stewart!). So Rooney Mara will be an interesting one to watch to see if she can pull off playing characters who are less mentally unstable. And I think she has lovely eyes!

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I also thought Jude Law did a very good job. I liked him in this & I normally don’t like him. I can’t explain this – I have no good reason for not liking him! Just like I have zero reason to hate Channing Tatum. This is the ONLY thing I’ve ever seen him in. I think he reminds me of the type of arrogant jocks I hated SO much in high school. That’s probably unfair as I’ve never seen him in anything, not even an interview. 😉 He’s fine in Side Effects – you don’t really notice him. He’s just… There. Catherine Zeta-Jones is also fine but for some reason I felt that she wasn’t quite right for the role – I’d have maybe liked to have seen a different actress play that role. Not sure who – not thought about it that much.

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I have to make a mention of the music in this movie. I thought the score was really good, as is always the case with Thomas Newman. I think Thomas Newman scores are amazing and think he doesn’t get the credit he deserves – I plan on doing a post dedicated to him at some point.

I’m not one for ever noticing symbolism in movies (I leave that to clever people to notice & then write about). I’m sure there’s plenty going on in Side Effects. Dunno! But I kept noticing a pair of scissors always fairly prominently displayed on every desk you see in the movie. Maybe someone smart can explain that one to me – I’m too lazy. 😉 But it did make me think of Dial M For Murder – a great Hitchcock film. I did think Side Effects had a Dial M For Murder vibe to it (and definitely Vertigo. And maybe a hint of Rear Window). I’ll just think of it as a nod to the master of suspense. Nothing beats Hitchcock. 🙂

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Side Effects is obviously not as good as classic Hitchcock but at least it tries. And it comes a lot closer than most current psychological thrillers. It was a thrilling ride and one I definitely recommend if this genre is your type of thing.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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7 thoughts on “Side Effects (2013) Review

    • Good – I was wondering if it was just me who didn’t really like CZJ in this. I added the .5 to my rating at the last second. 😉 It was good but also one of those I doubt I’d watch again – once you know the story you don’t really need to watch it again.

  1. Nice review! I’m really looking forward to this film, sorry to hear it’s not quite as good as you’d hoped. I don’t think Soderbergh’s ever done anything as good as his first film – Sex,, Lies and Videotape!

    • It’s definitely a good film but just not a classic in the way the Hitchcock stuff is – I did really enjoy watching it. I’ve actually never seen Sex, Lies, And Videotape – I should watch that someday.

  2. Nice review. Although some of its twists and character relationships could be developed more clearly, the movie still comes through as a surprisingly engrossing thriller with fantastic turns from the whole cast.

  3. Pingback: Sex, Lies, And Videotape (1989) Review | Cinema Parrot Disco

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