Tuesday, December 07, 2010

‘Love and Other Drugs’– Smart, sexy, adult romantic comedy!

‘Love and Other Drugs’ is a most welcome cure for the candy coated romantic comedies that we have had to endure so far this year. Sure there were a couple of good romantic comedies, but none have taken the forward and very real approach of Writer/Director Edward Zwick.

Jamie (Jake Gyllenhall) is the twenty something slacker that is still searching for his life’s calling; he has made a career of hopping from job to job, a constant failure in his parents eyes (Jill Clayburgh and George Segal) who are doctors, his sister, a doctor as well and his brother (the hilarious Josh Gad) who is a dot com billionaire. Landing a gig as a pharmaceutical rep (the only 6 figure entry level job), Jamie’s star begins to rise. Set in the early 90’s, the movie centers around the marketing boom for prescription drugs, about the time you started seeing ads in magazines pushing you to ask your doctor for a particular drug. This was the day of wooing doctors by offering trips and ‘consulting fees’ – this was the age of the salesman. With his drop dead good looks, boyish charm and the ability to sell ice to Eskimos, Jamie was destined to be a success. A chance encounter with the beautiful Maggie (Anne Hathaway) seems to change Jamie’s life.

Maggie is a free spirit artist, the kind of free spirit who volunteers her time to bus senior citizens to Canada for affordable prescription drugs. She also suffers from Parkinson’s, which she initially hides from Jamie. At first, their relationship is simple: meaningless sex ‘for an hour or two relief from the pain of being you’, she tells Jamie and she feels the same way. But that only works for a short time as Jamie begins to develop real feelings for Maggie and she for him. This is a very interesting progression as initially we see more of their bodies (nudity) as they are involved only for the sex, but less of their bodies as their relationship matures and becomes deeper; we begin to see more that is going on emotionally for them.

The relationship of Maggie and Jamie is the true heart of the story. When Jamie is confronted with the cold reality of Maggie’s disease, a very chilling scene that I won’t divulge but you will agree once you see it, his first instinct is to withdraw. But, of course, he quickly comes to realize that he cannot live without her. Now, I say of course and you could take that to mean it was predictable – of course it was! This is a romantic comedy after all. But the writing is so good, the acting so top rate, that we are cheering nonetheless for Jamie to win Maggie back.

This film works on so many levels. At one level it is about the real leap of faith we all go through when entering into a relationship. Not just faith in that person, but faith in the unknown. It is about finding that right person – no matter where he or she might be and acting on that, no matter their situation. We see both Maggie and Jamie go through other relationships – only to ultimately know they were meant for each other. We don’t always start out where we thought we might end up – and often we may start out at different spot than where we end up – but ultimately we have to trust our hearts and follow that.

‘Love and Other Drugs’ is a 4 star effort that is smart, sexy, funny and very poignant. Hathaway and Gyllenhall shine with near perfect chemistry. By far, the best romantic comedy this year.

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