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Parents' Guide to

Side Effects

By Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Thriller's twisty plot overshadows thought-provoking themes.

Movie R 2013 106 minutes
Side Effects Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 15+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 14+
age 17+

An intense thrill ride throughout. Entertaining, shocking and compelling!

Side Effects is a dark, tense psychological crime thriller which is chalk full of major plot twists and some characters actions (that unveils halfway through the film) becomes more menacing and shocking. The main synopsis is about a young woman whom apparently attempts suicide and is referred to a psychiatrist named Dr. Banks, whom prescribes her on this newly developed psychiatric prescription drug, which uncovers with unexpected side effects - murder. she murders her boyfriend in her sleepwalking stages, and then jeopardizes Dr. Banks' position. Jude Law, Rooney Mara, and Catherine Zeta-Jones were great choices for this specific movie, because they're good at playing charismatic characters with yet deceiving qualities. Side Effects is not intended for a young audience based on my experience watching this film, which is based around a character who unveils to have had past adult indiscretions with another. Violence is infrequent but graphic, especially the murder scene. Language is another big concern (uses of f**k, sh*t), and a couple graphic sex scenes including one with full frontal nudity. Prescription drugs are used and mentioned throughout this film, especially the one given by Dr. Banks, which gave a young woman terrifying side effects which ended up with a person she loved dead. Nevertheless, this movie was a surprise and I mean a major surprise, better than I expected.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (3 ):
Kids say (4 ):

There's enough good stuff here to give the movie a pass, though it could have been a great deal more. After a distinguished, prolific, and varied career, director Steven Soderbergh has announced that SIDE EFFECTS will be his last film. It's too bad, then, that although the movie has Soderbergh's unique textures and use of sound, as well as an unusually perceptive human touch, it's not one of his best. The first half -- based on characters and ideas -- is promising. Mara is touching as the wounded, achingly sad Emily, and the issue of whether and how to medicate her is expertly raised. (In an interesting antithesis scene, a Haitian boy who has seen a ghost is, due to his cultural beliefs, not considered sick.)

But Side Effects' second half turns entirely to a twisty, surprise-heavy plot that relies on quick shocks to prevent viewers from digging too deeply into its shaky logic. Without giving anything away, most of it is very far-fetched.

Movie Details

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