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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Side Effects (2013)

Side Effects (2013)

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Released 28-Jun-2013

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Crime Drama None
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2013
Running Time 101:38
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (55:40) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Steven Soderbergh

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Rooney Mara
Channing Tatum
Jude Law
Carmen Pelaez
Catherine Zeta-Jones
Vinessa Shaw
Ann Dowd
Polly Draper
David Costabile
Mamie Gummer
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $32.95 Music Thomas Newman

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

†††† Side Effects is supposed to represent Steven Soderbergh's film finale. Television is his destination, and this is understandable with the quality being produced for the small screen these days and the greater room television offers to expand creatively. Soderbergh is best known for directing the films Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989), Traffic (2000), Erin Brockovich (2000), Oceanís Eleven (2001), Oceanís Twelve (2004), Oceanís Thirteen (2007), Che: Part One-The Argentine (2008), Che: Part Two-Guerilla (2008), The Informant! (2009), Contagion (2011), Haywire (2011) and Magic Mike (2012). The screenplay was written by Scott Z. Burns who has previously worked with Soderbergh on two of those films named above (The Informant! and Contagion).

†††† Emily (Rooney Mara) is in her late twenties and suffers from extreme depression and anxiety. We only find this out after she drives a car into a wall in a clear suicide attempt after her husband (Channing Tatum) gets out of gaol after four years due to insider trading. In the hospital she is introduced to a psychiatrist named Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law). He puts her on a few medications and she follows through with regular visits, as she is hesitant to remain in hospital. Even on medication, Emily struggles with constant thoughts of suicide. Soon after she tries to take her life again, veering near the platform of a New York City subway station until she is saved by a police officer. Her psychiatrist is patient and helpful, changing her prescription to another antidepressant that she claims her friend from work recommended as being more effective.

†††† Things improve for a little while, however her husband soon sees her sleepwalking. Dr. Banks changes her medication to an experimental drug named Ablixa. As a result, she does something unthinkable as a side effect. She ends up getting arrested after this incident. The medication and its side effects are believed to be to blame here and that is why the film is titled as it is. Up to this point the film is psychologically intriguing and compelling; the audience naturally empathises with Emily's character during the trial that ensues. Is the medication to blame for what has tragically happened, or is there something else going on?

†††† At this point I must mention that the film takes a sharp detour from being socially conscious to being an unfolding thriller. Side Effects splits into two films, the first half is a well-acted cautionary tale. The second half, on the other hand, is an obvious homage to the likes of Hitchcock (Vertigo), Clouzot (Les Diaboliques) or DePalma (Obsession), without the links required to bind these unalike halves together. Nevertheless, the suspense that Soderbergh unveils is commendable here, just be warned that by the end of the film you'll find yourself reflecting on something quite different from its beginning.

†††† Side Effects will benefit from repeat viewing. The film is deeper the second time around, with small plot points making much more sense in hindsight. It's also more apparent just how developed the acting performances are, from Mara's sliding into depression to Law's gradual Cassandra Complex shift, Tatum's love and loyalty to his sick wife and Jones' cold, chilling and calculating demeanour. Nothing is as it seems as Mara shifts character three times and Law moves from professionally-concerned to semi-despondent to determinably-vindictive which effortlessly allows the set-up of the film's third act. Overall, Side Effects is a deliberate and well-crafted thriller made by an experienced filmmaker in Soderbergh, benefitting from Burns' clever script.

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Transfer Quality


†††† According to IMDb Side Effects was shot digitally in 5K using the Red Epic camera.

†††† The aspect ratio is 1:85:1, 16x9 enhanced for widescreen televisions.

†††† The film comes on a 6.52 gb dual-layered DVD with an average bitrate of 8.6 m/b per sec, which is outstanding for DVD.

†††† The colour timing is deliberately desaturated for creative reasons, with some scenes highlighting pale yellows, others are strikingly white, muted blue or rich green. I believe the scenes with a yellow hue need to be contrasted against scenes shot with a strong white background upon repeat viewing, as this will give the viewer greater insight into the veracity of the characters involved in these scenes.

†††† Darker shots contain slight digital noise. This is a consequence of filming with digital cameras and related lighting conditions. Also, it needs to be noted that Soderbergh favours a soft visual transfer in his films, and Side Effects is no exception to this rule.

†††† Subtitles are available in English.

†††† The RSDL change occurs at 55:40, at the beginning of a scene, and is unfortunately very noticeable!

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


†††† There are a few intense sequences; however Side Effects is a subtle film aurally, the surround mix catering for ambient effects mostly.

†††† The main audio track is a Dolby Digital English 5.1 track encoded at 448 kbps. A secondary audio track mirrors the main audio track in English, encoded in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo at 192 kbps. This stereo 2.0 track is obviously less dynamic than the main default 5.1 track. A Descriptive Audio track is available in English for the hard of hearing in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo also, similarly encoded at 192 kbps.

†††† As expected, the dialogue is clear from the centre channel and the audio is synchronised.

†††† Thomas Newman provides a simple, yet effective musical score which complements the many moods of this drama/thriller.

†††† The rear speakers support the authenticity of each scene and can best be described as subtly immersive throughout.

†††† The subwoofer is mainly utilised in the car crash scene, the subway scene and in the musical soundtrack.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


††††Apart from the initial start-up trailers for The Paperboy, Olympus Has Fallen and Mud, there are no extras unfortunately!

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

†††† The Region 4 Australian DVD release has no extras; however the Region 1 United States DVD release includes the following short extras:

†††† At the time of writing this review, the Region 1 United States DVD version is the only release available apart from the Region 4 Australian version. This is unsurprising, as the film was only recently released theatrically in the United States, in February, 2013.


†††† Side Effects was a critical hit as can be seen by the score of 85% on the 'tomatometer' at Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences rated the film slightly lower, with a 75% rating at Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.3 (out of 10) over at IMDb. At the box office, Side Effects took in $US60 million worth of business against its $US 30 million budget. If youíve enjoyed Steven Soderberghís recent films then itís likely that you will enjoy this clever and well-made thriller. In my opinion, it's highly recommended for repeat viewing.

Ratings (out of 5)


© John Stivaktas (I like my bio)
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S550 (Firmware updated Version 020), using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA46A650 46 Inch LCD TV Series 6 FullHD 1080P 100Hz. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony STR-K1000P. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationSony HTDDW1000
SpeakersSony 6.2 Surround (Left, Front, Right, Surround Left, Surround Back, Surround Right, 2 subwoofers)

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