What it's about:Jamie Randall (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a young smooth-talking salesman who lands a job with one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world. As his ruthless ambition to succeed in his new career advances, he has an unexpected and unconventional meeting with a young woman named Maggie Murdock (Anne Hathaway). Maggie is young, beautiful, intelligent and feisty, but she also suffers from early onset Parkinson's - a disease which she knows will eventually envelop and devastate her life. Despite the fact that Maggie initially despises Jamie and all that he stands for, the chemistry between them is blatantly obvious. Soon, the pair are just as addicted to one another as people are to the popular drugs Jamie provides. This obsession with medication (and self-medication) develops into an interesting side-plot as the film examines and recounts the rise and rise of popular drugs, such as that infamous little blue pill, in a world that's always desperate for a cure.
Love and Other Drugs sees the reunion of Hathaway and Gyllenhaal, who worked together on the critically acclaimed Brokeback Mountain back in 2005. Evidently, the couple's familiarity with one another counted in their favour, as this film demands an intimacy not often expected by Hollywood romantic comedy-dramas these days. The film is undeniably sexy, with Gyllenhaal and Hathaway literally ripping each other's clothes off at every chance they get. Clearly, the film tries to capture life in its raw form, with all the sex, nudity, tears and drama that goes along with it - sometimes with surprising success and sometimes, not so much.
This is due largely to a screenplay and script which seem to suffer from a bit of a bipolar disorder of its own - trying to be funny, sexy, tragic and sweet turns out to be a tall order. This multifariousness is reflected in the characters too, as Maggie's reluctance to commit herself to a relationship with Jamie leads to a break-up and make-up routine which makes for nothing short of a cinematic and emotional rollercoaster. The subplot concerning Jamie's connection to the drug revolution of the late nineties, also threatens to overshadow the personal drama that plays about between him and Maggie, causing distractions that seem unnecessary.
Hathaway shows off some of her acting chops - as she truly immerses herself in her spirited, yet hapless character. The attention to detail she brings to the role makes the suffering of Maggie Murdock believable and moving, even if the script sometimes leans towards sentimentality. However, Love and Other Drugs is not all about the drama. It consistently provides moments of genuine comedy, mostly courtesy of Josh Gad, who plays Jamie's kooky younger brother. To compliment Gad's comedic presence, Gyllenhaal and Hathaway also keep up their end of the deal by really putting themselves out there for the sake of lightening up a film that would otherwise have been too sappy to bear.
So, do we feel for these characters as they OD on success, love, sex and sometimes misfortune? It's difficult to say. Love and Other Drugs tries to be a broad spectrum kind of pill, which does provide the high, but the general scattershot storytelling and the predictable Hollywood ending will, for some, be a form of comedown - difficult to swallow.
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