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Side Effects (I) (2013)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama, Thriller  |  8 February 2013 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 138,106 users   Metascore: 75/100
Reviews: 266 user | 445 critic | 39 from

A young woman's world unravels when a drug prescribed by her psychiatrist has unexpected side effects.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Prison Desk Guard
Upset Visitor
Emily's Boss
Martin's Mother
Haraldo Alvarez ...
Garage Attendant
Police Officer at Hospital
Jacqueline Antaramian ...
Desk Nurse
Conference Organizer


Emily Taylor, despite being reunited with her husband from prison, becomes severely depressed with emotional episodes and suicide attempts. Her psychiatrist, Jonathan Banks, after conferring with her previous doctor, eventually prescribes an experimental new medication called Ablixa. The plot thickens when the side effects of the drug lead to Emily killing her husband in a "sleepwalking" state. With Emily plea-bargained into mental hospital confinement and Dr. Banks' practice crumbling around him, the case seems closed. However, Dr. Banks cannot accept full responsibility and investigates to clear his name. What follows is a dark quest that threatens to tear what's left of his life apart even as he discovers the diabolical truth of this tragedy. Written by Kenneth Chisholm (

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


One pill can change your life. See more »


Crime | Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexuality, nudity, violence and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

8 February 2013 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Side Effects  »

Box Office


$30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$9,303,145 (USA) (8 February 2013)


$32,154,410 (USA) (10 May 2013)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Reported at the time to be Steven Soderbergh's final film as a director. See more »


(at around 3 mins) The mic, cameraman and camera are reflected in a car window. See more »


[first lines]
Female Guard: Front door!
Prison Desk Guard: I can't let it in unless I see it.
Upset Visitor: I know. I know what the rules are. I'm just asking if you can make an exception.
Prison Desk Guard: There are no exceptions. That's why we have rules.
See more »


Referenced in On Cinema: 'Side Effects' and 'Identity Thief' (2013) See more »


The Forgotten People
Performed by Thievery Corporation
Written by Rob Garza (as Robert Garza) and Eric Hilton
Courtesy of ESL Music
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Morally ambiguous characters in a deceptive, complex thriller plot
9 February 2013 | by (Ontario, Canada) – See all my reviews

In "Side Effects", Emily (Rooney Mara) is feeling hopeless, suffering from prolonged effects of abandonment issues, unsure how to proceed in her life. Her husband, Martin (Channing Tatum) has just come home from prison, serving time for insider trading. But Emily doesn't know what she should be feeling; Emily doesn't know how to feel what she should be feeling. Psychiatrist Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law) is exactly what the doctor ordered.

For those of us who watched "Contagion" (2011) and wanted to focus only on Jude Law's morally ambiguous blogger, Alan Krumwiede, we have finally gotten our wish. Law's morally ambiguous Dr. Jon Banks and Mara's psychologically ambiguous Emily are the only two main characters. There is only one story to follow.

It starts off with some strange camera angles (Steven Soderbergh serving as his own director of photography as he has for the majority of his films) but then settles down as a thriller, or what will become a thriller once we get to know the characters better. Emily has tried many antidepressants in the past but most leave her with undesired side effects: nausea, dizziness, or lack of a sex drive. Won't Dr. Banks please prescribe her something different? Sure, how about Ablixa, the new medication which Dr. Banks is being paid to try out on patients.

And although we now think we know in which character evil lies, we do not. Dr. Jonathan Banks is singularly the most complicated, interestingly created character in recent times. He's modern, selfish, compassionate, professionally-oriented, family-oriented, has respect for the legal system, and will go to extremes to distinguish between right and wrong. He's the focus of this character-centric, film noir thriller which uses Mara's Emily as the vehicle for the plot.

A crime is committed. It's bad, really bad. But the question is not who did it, the question is, who is guilty? In answering that question the film weaves from deception through twist to deception, never ceasing our questions of what is morally right, what is morally wrong and who is guilty? The screenplay is incredibly well-written, creating characters that amaze us, disappoint us and deceive us all the while being a part of an interesting and complex story. The dialogue fits with that theme, using words like "hopeless" to tie multiple characters together - conceptually not physically.

It's more of an edge-of-your-mind thriller rather than an edge-of-your- seat thriller. Never really scared, always questioning the moral and psychological behaviour of these characters. The ending takes some strange, sexually-charged turns, and perhaps a bit more conclusive than I was originally expecting, but don't worry, you can still question where the line is between right and wrong and when each character crossed it.

130 of 160 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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