Written by Amanda Salazar
It is so pleasant to watch too good-looking people fall in love. In their world everyone is beautiful and things just seem to flawlessly work out. While most current romantic comedies would stop here, Love & Other Drugs comes at relationships from a different angle that still makes it easy to watch, with two good-looking people, but tackles difficult subject matter that makes it far more meaningful.
As only his second comedic picture, director Edward Zwick has created such a slick and sensible world that takes from real life and translates universally on screen. Based on the non-fiction book Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesmen, the film captures the realistic nature of relationships and what it takes for two people to really be in love.
It is 1996 and Jamie (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a professional go-getter. He is good at sales and even better at making money and selling himself. After becoming a pharmaceutical representative for Pfizer he is struggling to get his foot in the door when he meets Maggie (Anne Hathaway) a 26-year-old artist diagnosed with stage one Parkinson’s. As they try desperately to not fall in love, they engage in a passionate relationship that gets serious when they are faced with her disease and his job.
Love & Other Drugs honestly captures the sexy, raw and adoring beginnings of a relationship. Unlike other romantic comedies that simply rely on a kiss, there are multiple sex scenes throughout the film where the characters share an ardent, physical passion that cannot be denied. As they grow closer from their physical contact, they settle into a relationship that feels real and quite natural. Sex is used to explore each of their vulnerabilities, showing how close they can physically get but unable to emotionally attach to one another because of their own fears.
Hathaway gives a powerful performance that often outshines her co-star. She is dynamic and fun to watch on screen but also brings a serious compassion to her character and the disease that she has to fight. Also, in many of the scenes Hathaway is unblushingly naked which contributes to the fun rawness of the film. This all adds to the dynamic personality of Maggie who cannot fall in love because that means that she is asking someone to be with her as she gets worse, being that there is no cure.
The film may seem to be about a young man coming-of-age, but Maggie presents a different kind of perspective on what it means to grow-up. Like many films in this genre, their relationship is explored rather quickly and through use of montage sequences. Being that both actors are so easy to watch and their chemistry so tangible, it is easy to believe that they truly love one another, but it is not so easy once you fall in love. It is refreshing to see a couple not just faced with getting together but be with them as they explore the even more frightening subject of commitment.
The DVD contains many extra sequences that examine the different characters within the film. First, there are Deleted Scenes which actually have some interesting excerpts that are worth watching. A featurette called “Love and Other Drugs: An Actor’s Discussion” lets Hathaway Gyllenhaal talk about how comfortable they had to get for these roles. There are then two extras that let the actors talk about their take on their character which are “Beautifully Complex: Anne Hathaway Is Maggie” and “Reformed Womanizer: Jake Gyllenhaal is Jamie”. Then an interesting extra on “Selling Love and Other Drugs”.