"Side Effects": Critics hot for new Steven Soderbergh film

Jude Law, left, and Catherine Zeta-Jones in a scene from "Side Effects." AP/Open Road Films

Steven Soderbergh returns to direct "Side Effects," a new thriller that follows Emily and Martin (Rooney Mara and Channing Tatum), a successful New York couple whose world gets turned upside down when a new drug prescribed by Emily's psychiatrist (Jude Law) -- intended to treat anxiety -- has unexpected side effects.

"Side Effects," which also stars Catherine Zeta-Jones and Vinessa Shaw, could be the final big-screen offering from Soderbergh, who says retiring from feature films.

"I didn't want my last couple of films to be heavy," Soderbergh told The Toronto Star. "The last four ended up being 'Haywire,' 'Magic Mike,' 'Side Effects' and [the HBO film 'Behind the Candelabra.'] I was happy that I could play to the more amusing side of my personality rather than the pretentious, dark, boring side."

"I'm really happy with it," Soderbergh said of "Side Effects," a plot-twist-heavy movie expected to be Soderbergh's swan song.

But are movie critics happy with the film, too? A survey of top critics suggests they are, with some ranking it among Soderbergh's best. The movie has a rating of 83 percent on film aggregator site, Rotten Tomatoes.

See what the critics have to say:

Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly: "'Side Effects' was shot on digital video that makes it look as if we're peering through dirty glass, but it's still a lavishly dread-fueled suspense movie full of twists, reversals, double crosses, and dangerous liaisons."

Justin Chang of Variety: "Steven Soderbergh's elegantly coiled puzzler spins a tale of clinical depression and psychiatric malpractice into an absorbing, cunningly unpredictable entertainment."

Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter: "In trying to merge this alarmist theme with an old-fashioned murder mystery, the filmmakers throw at least one plot-twist sucker-punch too many, leaving the viewer with an "Oh, come on" reaction to the entire film."

A.O. Scott of The New York Times: "While the plot may be predictable (and more than a little preposterous) in retrospect, Mr. Soderbergh handles it brilliantly, serving notice once again that he is a crackerjack genre technician."

Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun-Times: "Soderbergh came, he saw, he conquered, and now he's moving on."

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone: "'Side Effects' is a hell of a thriller, twisty, terrific and packed with surprises you don't see coming."


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