So I toddled off to the cinema on Friday evening to see the new Jake Gyllenhaal/Anne Hathaway vehicle Love, and Other Drugs. I’d seen the trailers and these left me unsure what to expect – it seems to be advertised as a bit of a comedy which doesn’t really hint at the drama contained within the story – and this story is certainly more a drama rather than a comedy – and this is by no means a bad thing.
Detailing what happens when a Casanovaesque Pharmaceutical Rep meets a girl suffering with early onset stage one Parkinson’s. As the story progresses their relationship naturally deepens in what felt a believable and very natural manner and it’s very good that the film doesn’t shy away from the harder aspects of the illness and the effects that this has on the characters.
I thought the two leads played their roles fantastically well, with Hank Azaria – playing one of the doctors that Jake Gyllenhaal befriends in order to sell drugs – also performing an extremely nuanced character – at one point sleazy, but at the same time wearied by the pressures of running a successful surgery, wanting to help his patients but at the same time not necessarily being able to help.
I found the film very involving and I enjoyed the story as it unfolded – apparently someone was shouting our in the cinema towards the end of the film but I honestly didn’t notice – though there was one disappointment for me – that it was a fictional story! Given the setting of the film (1996 – halfway through there’s a plot point about a new super drug coming onto the market called Viagra…) and the way that the story progresses (trying to keep this vague so as not to spoil) I fully expected there to be a title card at the end of the film advising that it was based on a true story. This didn’t come up – though doesn’t say it’s not based on a true story I still would’ve liked to gave see something to that effect at the end – then again if it’s not it’s better they preserve the fiction. Note – in checking the names of the leads in this on Wikipedia (Gyllenhaal is complicated to spell without checking!) I discovered that the film is based on the non-fiction book Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman I’ve not been able to find much in the way of details to get an idea of what’s based on what but still good to know!
So all in all I enjoyed the film alot more than I had initially expected too. The fact it isn’t just a comedy but gets very serious at points I feel really add to its strengths. Worth a look for a good evening’s entertainment.