Review: Side Effects (2013)


side effects 2013 poster

“I won’t be able to tell the truth if I take anymore pills.”
– Emily Taylor

Martin Taylor (Channing Tatum) is released from prison after a four year sentence for insider trading. He is overjoyed to go home to his wife Emily (Rooney Mara), believing they can finally start their lives fresh together. However, Emily seems distracted and strange, and shortly after Martin’s triumphant return home she attempts suicide by driving her car into the wall in the garage of their building. At the hospital she meets with psychiatrist Dr Jonathan Banks (Jude Law), who fears for her safety and wellbeing. She convinces him that she cannot stay for observation but that she must go home to her husband and her job. Everyone seems worried about her, though she assures Banks that she will be fine. Reluctantly he lets her go under the condition that she is to come back and see him regularly. Banks is a successful psychiatrist that gets offered deals with pharmaceutical companies to run drug trials for them. This is great news for himself.

side effects lovely couple

“Depression is an inability to construct a future.” – Dr Jonathan Banks

Banks contacts Emily’s previous psychiatrist, Victoria (Catherine Zeta-Jones), to discuss Emily’s case. He tells her how he has put Emily on numerous drugs and nothing seems to be working for her. Victoria suggests he try Ablixa, a new drug in its testing phase. He is not pleased by it and will not try. Emily goes to see Bank after trying to jump onto a subway track, and Banks gives in, prescribing the medication to Emily. The medication seems to kick in and her whole life improves. Her attitude, her love life, her home life – Martin is thrilled that the medication is finally working and that his wife can have a normal life. One night he awakens to find Emily sleepwalking and completely unaware of what she is doing. Freaked out a bit, he goes with Emily to see Banks, demanding that her medication be changed. Banks is almost ready to oblige when Emily puts her foot down, citing that she finally has a normal life, the sleepwalking is no big deal. Banks prescribes her another pill to counteract the sleepwalking.

side effects professionals

“It’s in our best interest that you start forgetting.” – Dr Jonathan Banks

One night Martin comes home to Emily, who is sleepwalking and stabs him to death when he approaches her in the kitchen. She promptly goes back to bed and wakes later to find her husband dead in the house. In a panic she calls the police, and they arrive on the scene. Emily is taken into custody. When the police speak to Banks, they make it clear that someone will have to pay for what happened. Either he was a negligent psychologist, or Emily is truly a murderer. Banks cannot accept either option, and starts to do incredible amounts of research into the matter to exonerate them both. He is troubled by the side effects that Emily suffered, and that her whole life is over now, the moment that she was getting it together, finally living it and enjoying it. However, the courts want someone to blame, and have her plead insanity; they will declare her not guilty and put her in a mental ward. In there, when she is deemed ready, she will be let out. Banks volunteers to be her psychiatrist.

side effects prison

“I’m not crazy, you know I’m not crazy.” – Emily Taylor

Banks soon becomes obsessed with Emily’s case, and starts to uncover some nasty secrets. Something is not right about the drug that Emily was taking and how everything went down. His partnership in the drug trials is pulled when he is viewed a liability, and he is pushed out of his firm, too. The more he digs, the more things in his life go wrong, including his wife Deirdre (Vinessa Shaw) leaving him. Will Banks’s career survive another hit? Will he be able to figure out exactly what happened the night that Martin died? Is Emily a victim of the pills that she was on, or did she murder her husband in cold blood?

A 7/10 for Side Effects. I have been hearing very mixed things about this film, but I must admit that I found it to be very entertaining. Jude Law impressed the hell out of me in this one; he was not annoying in the very least and delivered a damn near perfect performance. The cast was very good in here, and I enjoyed the soundtrack. The story was well presented, and starts snowballing around halfway, gaining momentum and throwing everything you thought you knew clean around. Rooney Mara played Emily very well, though I must say that Jude Law simply stole the whole show for me. Channing Tatum was in and out so quickly, though he is not a bad actor. Catherine Zeta-Jones is still a stunning woman; though there was something drastically wrong with her eyebrows in this film… they just looked really strange. Her performance was just fine! I enjoyed the whole psychiatric aspect of this, the pill popping, and circumstantial evidence as well as how people react and treat someone when things go wrong. I felt for Banks… one little thing blew out of proportion and took as much of his life with it as possible. I liked the look and feel of the movie. Overall, this is an entertaining watch and a nice little piece of work to think on, and definitely worth checking out.

28 thoughts on “Review: Side Effects (2013)

  1. Yep, I was one of those who was mixed on this film. Loved the first half but thought things started slowing down. Then the end (out of the blue) really didn’t work for me at all.

    Still some fine performances though.


  2. I did not see the twists coming towards the ends of this movie and was really impressed with Side Effects. It is on Netflix here but I don’t want to watch it again and spoil what I already know. Great review!


  3. I kind of want to see this movie, still. I was excited around its release, but it’s dwindled in importance. I don’t like Jude Law too much, but I do like Rooney, oh, but I don’t like Channing either, sort of. I don’t know, we’ll see. Terrific post nonetheless, Zoe :).


    • Thanks Joseph. I must say I am not particularly familiar with Tatum’s work, but he was just fine in here for what he had to do, and trust me (also truly not being a Jude Law fan), Law really didn’t work on my nerves in here, which in itself was a surprise to me. It was a good movie for a chilled out afternoon, nothing overly demanding but not overly bland, either, I enjoyed it. Would love to hear what you think when you finally get to it!


  4. This movie, I loved. Very cerebral and complicated, yet I do see where people are coiming from in criticizing the. . . e-hem. . .side effects of having a plot twist too many. It didn’t bother me at all. You did this film justice, I firmly agree with the 7/10. 😀


    • Bwahahaha oh DO excuse the pun! 😉 I enjoyed it, and I am glad to see that I am not alone. I liked it. It was a decent flick that is worth looking into!


  5. I wasn’t massively sold on this one to be honest, although the performances were fantastic. I thought it got very messy towards the end and Catherine Zeta-Jones’ was just a cartoon villain. Not a terrible film but not as good as I thought it’d be.


    • Thanks Chris. Cartoon villain… perfect way to sum her up! She was not particularly scary or anything of that nature. I was entertained, but this was not nearly as bad as it was made out to be. I enjoyed it.


  6. 7/10 sounds about right Zoe, though I rated it a bit lower in my review a while back. I really wanted to love it but I found it to be rather tedious and the twist is just meh. I agree that Jude Law is good here, he’s definitely a better actor than meets the eye.


    • Yeah I did enjoy this a tad more than most it seems, though I did go in with zero expectations and we hadn’t really heard about it this side, so it was nice in that way. Jude Law has his moments, this definitely showcases that!


  7. Good review Zoe. The movie is quite nuts, but you know what? That’s what I liked so much about it. It was fun, exciting, always twisty and always capable of having me on the edge of my seat, not having a single clue as to what the hell was going to happen next, or to whom.


    • Thanks Dan! That is why this was fun. Just as you thought you had it figured, you actually really didn’t! The movie was a lot of entertainment, glad to hear you enjoyed it too!


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