Jamie (Jake Gyllenhaal) is an up and coming drug sales superstar, who can score a client as easily as he can score a date. Jamie believes he can sell himself to anyone until he meets charismatic free spirit Maggie (Anne Hathaway) who will not let anyone get close to her. Love and Other Drugs is a romantic and humorous journey into the nature of love, lust, devotion and pharmaceuticals.
Love and Other Drugs plays off as a romantic comedy at first but it seems the comedy isn’t frequent enough for that title. Set in 1996, there are quite a few subtle references for that time, the technology is spot on as is the fashion, the musical choices however is where they slipped up a bit, with some songs used released as late as 1999. The film felt very light hearted and humorous for the first half and becomes more serious as the characters invest more emotion with each other. This works because I was witnessing a relationship grow between two interesting characters instead of an interesting relationship growing from two-dimensional characters.
Love and Other Drugs would not have been a movie I would have enjoyed if it weren’t for the two main characters. Gyllenhaal is a very charismatic actor and his charm stems from his sense of humour. Hathaway is very charming herself but the audiences interest with her stems from her strength and honesty, a very attractive quality in a woman and something that a man like Jamie doesn’t expect. We see Jamie sifting through skirt like a buffet without any attention actually given to any of the individuals, because they aren’t individuals to him and thinks less of their bodies than he thinks of himself. These two people find each other in an uninspiring way because it isn’t their relationship that this movie is about.
I would class Love and Other Drugs as a drama, a moral dilemma. Would you give up your life completely for someone you loved? When you had never loved someone before could you sacrifice your future ambition for devotion? This seems like a quindecennial question but the film doesn’t use the normal formula. There is a lot of emotion In this film and a lot of heart, presumably from how real it feels with its imperfect characters and how it very cleverly sets itself around an actual event. The invention of Viagra; a suitable symbol for the lust of the film, lust being the fuel but the sense of longing being the drive.
Aesthetically the film seems too realistic with nothing that’s stands out as memorable. The film is mostly set in hospitals, pubs and apartments and there are not instances of interesting camera angles apart from some lingering close ups. Maggie’s transformation is done subtly and the steady pace of the film does not rush any realizations. As stated before the music has its flaws, there is one annoying song they choose to repeat every time there is an emotional moment so as to cue the audience to feel. The actors do a good enough job of evoking interest with their chemistry and likeable flaws to maintain our attention so some of the aforementioned cues make the drama contrived.
There are a few “Jerry Maguire” moments that can detract the viewer from the drama. The characters step from their quirkiness occasionally to make the viewer care but what I really believed was the selfishness of people as it was depicted in an honest and cold manner. Love and Other Drugs is a tale of a late 90s yuppie and his descent into happiness. The most memorable aspect of the film for me was the honest depiction of illness and the ramifications it has on the people who care for those inflicted. The movie would have felt too familiar however, if it weren’t for the stellar performances of Gyllenhaal and Hathaway, some truly hilarious situations and some clever nineties nostalgia.
I give Love And Other Drugs 3 out of 5 stars.
Love and Other Drugs opens on the 16th of December Australia wide