Here’s another movie I should have watched weeks earlier. I’ve had it since February (Valentine’s Day, I remember!), but I only got around to watching it after Danica convinced me to last Sunday. Two lives collide in Love and Other Drugs. Jamie (Jake Gyllenhaal): an electronics-salesman-turned-pharmaceutical-sales-representative. Maggie (Anne Hathaway): a coffee house waitress with early-onset Parkinson’s disease. He, a med school dropout: charming, attractive, carefree. She, a volatile artist: guarded, cynical, noncommittal. In this confluence of lives, they meet and begin a relationship based entirely on casual sex—until they both realize that they need something more than that, and that they may have found it in each other.
This movie starts out like any good romantic comedy, with the right mix of charm and conflict, humor and catchy music. Jake Gyllenhaal dominates this first part, until Anne Hathaway enters the scene to beguile us with her flippant character and, later on, her superb acting. The two actors’ onscreen chemistry produces a middle part that’s romantic and convincing enough to capture the viewer’s sympathy by the time everything crashes down toward the end. This last part paints a more dismal picture of their relationship, marred as it is by the burden of Maggie’s incurable disease. I remember this one scene when Jamie leaves her after a breakup, and even as his figure walked away, a part of me silently screamed: You should have fought harder!
I generally like this movie, so I can forgive its flaws. For main characters, Jamie and Maggie remain strangely one-dimensional, but at least they have a charming self-awareness: “Does this generally work for you? This whole misunderstood-by-Dad-I’m-a-vulnerable-guy-thing?” “Does that work for you, generally? Self-pity?” I also found the ending a tad too cheesy, with its too-perfect lines and sappy background music. At that point it felt like just another idealistic romance flick saying: When you meet the One, everything will fall in place. I could almost hear Jamie telling Maggie, “It’s you and me against the world” (in this case Parkinson’s disease). Not that I’m making light of their problem, but the middle part did a much better job of convincing me than the end. Still: unusual take on adult romance? Interesting glimpses into the drug industry? Appealing minor characters? Not bad, not bad at all.
‘So are you always this mean?’ ‘Actually this is me being nice.’
‘This isn’t about connection for you. This isn’t even about sex for you. This is about finding an hour or two of relief from the pain of being you, and that’s fine with me, see, because all I want’s the exact same thing.’
‘Apparently you need to know that I’ll get better in order to love me.’
‘Nobody wants to be the one who runs away.’
‘We don’t have to do this.’ ‘Goodbye.’
‘You need someone to take care of you.’ ‘No, I don’t.’ ‘Everybody does.’
‘I want us. You. This.’