This is definitely a movie that will keep you guessing.


Jude Law as Dr Jonathan Banks
Rooney Mara as Emily Taylor
Catherine Zeta-Jones as Dr. Victoria Siebert
Channing Tatum as Martin Taylor
with Vinessa Shaw as Dierdre Banks

Now, here’s a refreshing movie that’s smart and entertaining. What begins as a film about a woman’s depression ends up being a smart crime thriller with a bit of medical morality thrown in. Its storyline could have gone in another direction, but obviously, that would have been difficult to make entertaining.

Emily Taylor has just welcomed her husband home from gaol, after he spent four years locked up for fraud and embezzlement. In the meantime, she’s been working hard and living in a small apartment, pining for her husband. Emily also suffers from depression, first seeing Dr Siebert while she still had some money left and then living with it for years. After a few days of sadness with her husband, Emily decides to kill herself in an underground car park by driving her car into the wall at high speed. Luckily, she only suffers a light concussion, leading her to enter further psychological treatment and observation with Dr Jonathan Banks.

Over the course of a few months, Emily tries various drugs, but to no avail. Most have no effect, until she suggests that she try Ablixa, a drug that’s just come on to the market. This has immediate positive effects, but unfortunately, Emily starts to sleepwalk. Despite the protests of Martin, she continues to take it, until one day she stabs him to death during a sleepwalking episode. Naturally, Emily is tried for murder, but with the expert witness testimony of Dr. Banks, she’s let off on the charge on the condition that she stays in a mental institute under the supervision of Dr Banks.

Here’s where the movie gets slightly tangled up, before righting itself. As its title suggests, Side Effects examines the consequences of what doctors do when they prescribe drugs to patients. If it goes wrong, it can have devastating effects on everyone’s lives. The way the movie goes about it though, makes you wonder if it has anything to do with the relationship between doctors and drug companies. It’s a segue that would have been interesting, if there was a conclusion to the thought. What the movie is actually waiting for, is the unravelling of the conspiracy instigated by Emily.

Don’t get me wrong, the conspiracy and the conclusion makes for a great movie. I just wish that the movie didn’t take so much time examining Dr Banks’ involvement with drug companies and using that as a red herring. It’s an unnecessary diversion that felt slightly indulgent, and feels slightly out of place because it doesn’t make any useful point.

Side Effects is quite an interesting movie, with an interesting premise. Even though it is, in the end, a nice crime thriller, there are some excellent questions asked and answered by the movie. I thought that the reaction of Emily Taylor to Martin going to gaol was a bit over the top, but in the end, it’s just plausible enough to carry the story through to its ultimate conclusion. It’s not an especially happy movie, but it does its best to keep your interest and at least gives you a satisfying ending.


Surprisingly good, and the cast are excellent in their roles.

Should I watch this?

One of the better movies to have come out in 2013. I regret missing out on it in cinemas, but glad that we discovered it since.


2 thoughts on “Side Effects

  1. I am not sure why I have never watched this movie. I’ve had so many chances but I guess the topic simply did not provoke me enough. You make it sound very interesting and I really should give it a chance at some point or another. It is interesting that you say the same thing about always missing it for whatever reason haha.

    • Thanks! Sadly, I thought it would end up being a silly medical drama about a disease outbreak. Turns out my presumption was wrong, for all the right reasons.

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