Thursday, 13 January 2011
love and other drugs
Jake Gyllenhaal as Jamie Randall
Anne Hathaway as Maggie Murdock
I watched this film just as 2010 ended. I was in the Picturehouse with maybe 6 other people, embracing the peace and sweet popcorn that comes with a solo cinema trip. I didn't have great expectations. I had just watched The Tourist and seen how two actors, who individually are amazing, can suck the life from a film if they lack chemistry. Save your money, The Tourist shouldn't even be bought on DVD. Rent it if you must. But don't say I didn't warn you. However my girl-crush on Anne Hathaway and straight up lust for Jake Gyllenhaal meant I had to give this film a chance, and it didn't disappoint.
The film seems to consist of parallel plot arcs. The first is an expose of the seedy, morally bankrupt drugs industry. We're shown ostentatious displays of wealth by pharmaceutical companies, the greed of the drugs reps, and the unscrupulous doctors who push drugs from the company most likely to get them to Hawaii that summer. The characters in this plot are almost uniformly obnoxious with few redeeming qualities and their lavish displays of wealth are nauseating. Sadly we don't see any redemption for these characters and their excess makes them increasingly irrelevant as the film progresses.
The second arc is the love story and this is the reason this film touched me. I didn't realise how accustomed I'd become to seeing teenagers fall in love on the big screen. Boys with floppy hair and piercing eyes (Zac Efron and Robert Patterson, I mean you!) serenading a pretty, smart, ethnically ambiguous girl the night before the big game (thank you very much Disney).
But Maggie and Jamie are adults and this is grown-up love, admittedly through the eyes of two very emotionally stunted people who connect physically way before any emotion is involved. The much reported nudity isn't explicit or exploitative. It's really natural and fresh, almost European in its approach. And a definite two fingers up to the typical Hollywood post-coital scene with the duvet demurely above the level of the breasts of the actress and pubic hair of the actor.
At first glance Maggie and Jamie are pretty cliche. The slacker, turned smooth talking drugs rep with the ability to charm his way into any and all knickers, and the beautiful but terminally ill artist, with a spiky wit that keeps people at arms length - you have definitely seen these characters before. But Jake and Annie (yes, we're cool like that) breathe life into these characters, flesh them out and actually make you care about their journey.
Unfortunately the love story is marred by the addition of Jamie's younger brother. An unnecessary purveyor of masturbation, porn and voyeurism humour which stands out rudely from the overall tone of the film. I wish that Zwick had left this character on the cutting room floor.
Rating - 3.5/5
The best romantic comedy I have seen in a long time with some unfortunate, unnecessary additions.