Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Love & Other Drugs

Lowdown: A pharmaceutical rep falls in love with a Parkinson’s patient.
Coincidences happen. This time around the coincidence is with us watching two films sharing the same theme in a raw: No Strings Attached was immediately followed by Love & Other Drugs, both being films dealing with a man trying to establish a proper relationship with a woman interested in sex alone. No Strings Attached was a disaster of a movie; could Love & Other Drugs do better?
There can be no denying Love & Other Drugs starts with better equipment at its arsenal. Director Edward Zwick (The Last Samurai, Blood Diamond, Defiance) knows how to create epics, and actors Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway are probably two of the best younger talents Hollywood can offer us. However, can these talents do well in the unfamiliar territory of a romantic comedy?
Jamie (Gyllenhaal) is the oldest son in a family of otherwise successful people; it’s just that he prefers to work as a stereo equipment salesperson and womanize. That is, until he’s caught doing what he was doing at the shop’s warehouse. Under new pressure to acquire a more prestigious vocation, he turns into selling pharmaceuticals for Pfizer (yes, I was surprised the film picked on a real pharmaceutical company) and finds that despite the claim to help people it’s all about the money. Doh!
As Jamie tries to fill his quota and beat the Prozac yielding competition he bumps into Maggie (Hathaway), a surprisingly young Parkinson’s patient, as she takes her bra off before the doctor he’s accompanying. Jamie falls for the challenge and quickly enough his courtship is successful as he beds another woman, but just as quickly he falls in love. The notion is not mutual, though, and Maggie – who was obviously burnt before – likes to keep things at the non emotional level.
The film progresses to tell us more about the implications of Parkinson’s as well as about the general commercialization of the health industry. This brings about Love & Other Drugs’ biggest problem: I couldn’t tell whether it’s a romantic comedy, the story of a sick person, an alarm call to the state of the health industry, or a general call to the risks of running a capitalist society. Alas, with so many targets to aim at, Love & Other Drugs cannot score a direct hit on any of them; it comes out as a not so interesting film with too rare moments of interest to work.
It was nice to see Gyllenhaal and Hathaway cooperating again after their mighty acting display at Brokeback Mountain. This time around, as a bonus, the two are the film’s main characters. It also was nice to see Hank Azaria provide a very decent and serious supporting act. However, I could not avoid thinking that perhaps Zwick is out of his playing field with romantic comedies.
Interesting scenes:
It’s interesting to compare No Strings Attached’s sex scenes with this one’s. Hathaway does not have much reservation and showcasing her evident talents where Portman won’t take her clothes off.
Don’t get me wrong; I am no advocate for nudity on film. I am, however, a person who enjoys films more when they present things naturally, and as far as I know sex tends to be orchestrated in the nude.
Still, we have to remember we're in Hollywood's domain here. That is, we’re still pretty conservative: men (both Kutcher and Gyllenhaal) are not allowed to expose their penises, while woman may only expose their breasts and behinds. That said, In Hathaway’s case it did seem as if she couldn’t wait to show us her body.
Technical assessment: A fairly decent Blu-ray.
Overall: Neither here nor there or anywhere. 2 out of 5 stars.

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