In other words, Love and Other Drugs (2010). Directed by Edward Zwick, this unapologetic chick-flick features a sick Anne Hathaway and a self-preserving and self-under-appreciating Jake Gyllenhaal as young adults counter-intuitively drawn to and in need of each other. This premise needs no more description or contextualizing, at least the previews would suggest as much. May I take the time to praise the poster? Not sure about Jake’s hand-on-mouth, but for the sole reason that his name is on his side of the image and Anne’s name is on her side of the image, I’m praising it.
And yet, the movie itself is both much more and much less eventful. Jamie and Maggie (Jake and Anne, respectively) aren’t just young people who meet, explore, enjoy, then question the unmistakable, consequential chemistry they share. Jamie is a college drop-out whose days of high-end sound equipment have been cut short due to unprofessional behavior on the job. A younger brother hooks him up with an entry level job at Pfizer. In what could almost be a thematic cousin to Up in the Air , Love and Other Drugs sets itself up as a meaning-of-life journey for its male protagonist.
Major spoilers ahead. Highlight relevant words at your own discretion. Even when Anne Hathaway makes her first appearance in the plot and introduces the romance factor and the movie reveals that her character has stage one Parkinson’s disease, the narrative could still be about Jamie…until it stops being about him or even her. Although the plot focuses on both of them and compels the audience to ask itself how much it could sacrifice just to be with someone they loved, there doesn’t seem to be a point to the movie for me.
Had the film skewed more towards the inner workings of the pharmaceutical industry vis-a-vis the medical profession, it would’ve been reminiscent of Thank You For Smoking. Unfortunately, Love and Other Drugs would have to become an entirely different movie and perhaps too satirical for the intentions of writers Zwick, Charles Randolph, and Marshall Herskovitz. If the film skewed more towards Maggie’s condition within the context of the mid 1990s (or changed to another illness), then we’d be faced with Dying Young or Autumn in New York. Were it the latter, we’d have to hypothesize as to whether or not the writers would let Maggie live, die, or either depending on viewer interpretation of the final scene. In case you’re wondering, it’s not a life or death ending.
I neither like nor dislike Love and Other Drugs. I love Anne Hathaway even more now–and not just because she has a lovely body that gets more screen time than one might deem necessary for narrative purposes.* Jake Gyllenhaal was quite charming…but I didn’t care about the movie itself. As I walked out towards my car after the film ended, I kept thinking, “But how can Jake’s character apply for med school? He hasn’t graduated from college. And why set the movie in the mid-9os. What, so the filmmakers wouldn’t have to populate residences with flat screen Apple monitors? or have iPods, iPhones, and intelligent phones all over the place for authenticity?”
If you love Anne Hathaway—watch it. If you’re neutral to her and don’t care for Jake Gyllenhaal, skip it.
Click here for other movie images.
*I thought the back-side nudity was much more relevant to the film’s story and theme as it reinforced that these two people are very comfortable with each other. The two “only breasts” shots are used for more comedic purposes, which don’t backfire but can be read as gratuitous. Not that the shape of her bosom would be a shocker for anyone that has seen Havoc.