Quick Hitter Review: Side Effects

Cast: Rooney Mara, Jude Law, ,Channing Tatumn

Writer: Scott Z. Burns

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Emily Taylor(Rooney Mara) has been suffering from depression ever since her husband Martin(Channing Tatum) was put in prison for insider trading. Upon him being released from prison, Emily becomes even more depressed; so much, to the point that she slams her car into a brick wall. At this point, after awakening in the hospital Dr. Jonathan Banks(Jude Law), who is overseeing the case, decides to prescribe a new anti-depression pill. Returning home after a week of taking the new medication Emily is feeling great, like a whole new person, has a lot of energy, and is finally able to be intimate with her husband once again. Ironically, there are a few side-effects of the drug and that is where I stop talking about this movie and it’s plot. Seriously people. I don’t care what you think you know about the film, there is plenty to keep you guessing. I’m not going to give away any spoilers.  I’ll just say that you won’t be bored when you watch this.

The film is an exquisite murder mystery where  a new clue keeps getting revealed at every turn.  At one point, I thought that I had it figured out, but screenwriter Scott Z. Burns adds a few simplistic surprises that kept me engaged with it until the very end. Now, many may be able to unravel the clues a little faster than me, but even so, don’t let it dampen the experience. That is part of the fun, watching mysteries and checking to see if you are right, which is fitting of the film. The cast members all do a fine job and I bought into all of them, and their motives too. Rooney Mara is even better here then she was in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and I really dug all of the changes her character goes through. On top of that Jude Law’s character evolves throughout the film and it is both predictable and surprising. it simply lends credibility to the film maker for the ability to craft an expert story and characters.

Steven Soderbergh has never made a bad movie. Sure he’s made mediocre ones like “Full Frontal“, and “Ocean’s 12“, but I have never finished watching any of his flicks and thought it was a waste of my time. The man has a gift; Soderbergh has the ability to mold even the most armature, unknown professionals and form them into the perfect individual for the role . If you need any proof, check out Sasha Grey in “The Girlfriend Experience” or Jennifer Lopez in “Out of Sight”.  I know the man says he wants to retire soon, but before he does; can he please teach the new wave of directors how to tell a good story. I’m afraid that once his final bow is made, the art of story telling will continue a downward spiral. If another person handled this movie, I feel as though it would have come off as tacky and disconnected; which is another piece of credence to Soderbergh’s talent.

Side Effects” may not be great by any means, but it sure is a fun one.

 8 out of 10


What do you think of Soderbergh’s latest? Leave us your thoughts in the comments below.

Written By The Vern

Yes Hello people. It is I The Vern. Lover of movies, women, and whiskey, but not in that particular order. Besides writing for this site. I help co host The As You Watch podcast and help contribute to the world of films wherever I can.

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the author

Yes Hello people. It is I The Vern. Lover of movies, women, and whiskey, but not in that particular order. Besides writing for this site. I help co host The As You Watch podcast and help contribute to the world of films wherever I can.

  • No offence Vern, but ‘Che’ was overblown and selfish. ‘The Girlfriend Experience’ was Soderbergh trying to show off (and failing) with someone that couldn’t (and still can’t) act. ‘Haywire’? Please see previous sentence. And ‘Magic Mike’ was just Showgirls with sperm. True, not one of them is awful, but I couldn’t honestly recommend any of them to anyone.

    He has made some great movies, Solaris is one of my personal favourites. If Soderbergh wants to take some time off as he suggests, then good for him, I think he’s probably right. He says he has tun out of stories that he wants to tell. Looks to me like he ran out of them a few years ago.

    Thanks for the review of Side-Effects, btw. You weren’t kidding calling it a quick-hitter, were you? Blink and you’d miss it… 😉

  • No Offense taken. Although I will ask what is so bad about a director showing off. Isn’t that what he’s suppose to do. Showing off a movie that he as helped create. Magic Mike was not Showgirls with Guys. The lead character was not a double crossing Bitch who only craved fame. I will agree with you Solaris is amazing and I wish it were on Blue Ray. Thanks for the Comment

  • Nothing wrong with trying to show off, as long as you can pull it off. Otherwise it just appears consdescending to the audience who will get the impression that the director hasn’t done enough, but the director does it anyway, thinking his audience won’t notice. A couple of films got made just because of his name, which can be as much of a curse as a blessing. Magic Mike was lost on me. I still don’t get it. Maybe that’s just me though. Enough people have told me they really enjoyed it, so I guess it must be me…

  • I have to defend “Che”, which is an amazing work and one of Soderbergh’s most undervalued films. The first part in particular ranks among his best movies. Vern, I really enjoyed “Side Effects” and was surprised frequently by its twists and turns. The main reason is because the actors sell the material, especially Rooney Mara.

    It’s tricky to say whether Soderbergh has made a “bad” movie. “Ocean’s 12” comes closest. However, I’ll agree that he never makes a dull film. “The Good German” wasn’t great, but there was still enough to make it worth checking out. That’s also true of “Bubble”. He’s one of the most consistent and interesting directors out there, so it’s too bad he’s calling it quits.

  • Great review, Vern. You’re totally right about Soderbergh. Really enjoyed this one too.

  • Ries

    Steve, though we typically agree on a lot, I’ve got to disagree with you here. I adored Che (both parts one and two) and thought Magic Mike was more fun than not. I never saw ‘The Girlfriend Experience’, since I had no interest in seeing Sasha Grey show her ‘artistic’ side, since frankly I don’t believe she actually has one. I don’t think Soderbergh is the greatest thing to ever hit the silver screen, but I don’t dislike him a strongly as you do. Not even sure why I replied to this post, probably just because I felt the need to jump to the defense of someone I don’t hate. Now I’m tempted to delete this response, but that would mean the effort of typing it all up was wasted. So…here is a drawing of a stapler.

  • i was wavering on seeing this, but i think you convinced me to give it a shot.

  • I didn’t say I disliked him. I did mention that Solaris is one of my favourite films. I just don’t believe reputations should be assumed, but more deserved over a continued body of work. Simply, I don’t think Sodetbergh is half the director most people give him credit for. Judging from the responses here, I think that puts me in the minority.

  • Thanks Dan. Yeah I agree it is sad that he wants to call it quits. Damn it seems like a lot of great filmmkaers want to hag up their hats. WTF

  • Thank you Rich and Rafael(sorry not rewriting your full name) for the comments. It is more enjoyable if you go into it cold. IE No trailers, reviews, ect

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