Love and Other Drugs
Love and Other Drugs is Edward Zwick’s latest film and is something of a peculiarity for him. He is known mostly for such films as Glory and Courage Under Fire. His most recent film, Defiance, was also a war epic. Hence, turning this direction caused many raised eyebrows. That said, he is not totally knew to the genre, he started here actually.
The film tells the story of Jamie Randall, a pharmaceutical sales person who has a way with the ladies. You know the drill, and as much as I hate to admit it, for a majority of the film’s run time, it pretty much just runs the drill. We have our male protagonist that loves sex but not relationships, and our quirky, hip, nonconformist woman who initially shows no interest. Then they get involved and problems emerge when emotions show up. The film’s catch is that she has Parkinson’s disease. I appreciate that the film reveals this immediately rather than trying to keep her reasoning for wanting distance a mystery. But that doesn’t make the concept any more original.
There is a subtle irony that she is sick and he works in the medical field, but the film doesn’t really develop it. And I am glad that it doesn’t because Viagra (the drug that Jamie is selling) doesn’t really have anything to do with Parkinson’s. Instead Love and Other Drugs plays on the irony that he is selling Viagra and he is a sexaholic, but he chooses her instead.
The film falls into more clichés and some of its worst moments are when the overweight, Jonah Hill-style brother of Jamie moves in because he is having problems with his lady. His purpose in the film is to be jealous of his brother, until he has sex and discovers that relationships are more important. He provides for plenty of alarmingly humorous gags.
Despite everything I just mentioned, Love and Other Drugs is good, even great if you are someone who loves romantic comedies as irrationally as I do. But it is not this year’s Up in the Air. It is a comedy at heart and it only loses sight of that to get deeply romantic. The film tells a love story and makes you laugh. And there is nothing wrong with that.
As you probably noticed, I haven’t mentioned anything about our two lead performers. I will say this bluntly: this is my new favorite Jake Gyllenhaal performance. He literally delves into the realm of Jim Carrey with this role. He is wild, charismatic, and hysterical. But he has a heart, and pulls it off even when the script can’t keep up with him.
Anne Hathaway is at the top of her game as well, but the script gives her a little less to work with. She shines in a particularly brilliant scene that shows real Parkinson’s patients gathered to share each others' stories. Hathaway sits in the audience with tears of joy, marveling at their accomplishments.
There are moments in this film where you can literally feel the sexual tension bursting from the screen. The cinematography and score work together to elevate the romantic tone. One beautiful shot in which Hathaway rejects Gyllenhaal shows snow swirling around her at the edge of an alleyway. Another shows only their skin through a blurred, steamy window, also with snow blowing around in front of them.
In the final moments of Love and Other Drugs, Jamie is required to make his cliché, final resolution request to be with her. Again, the film goes through the motions with this scene. But here, there is only one subject that needs to be touched on. And while the film stumbles a bit to get there, it goes where it needs to go, and says all that it needs to say. It ends on the right note and it is fun to watch it get there.