PASS THE POPCORN: Gyllenhaal scores in a new flick by Zwick

by Staff

Free spirits Maggie (Anne Hathaway) and Jamie (Jake Gyllenhaal) are surprised to find themselves under the influence of the ultimate drug in the emotional comedy LOVE & OTHER DRUGS.

By Carmen Splane, Contributor

Right before the turn of the 21st century, a sexual revolution was born. A little blue pill that had all the makings of a pharmaceutical promised land was ushered into the American public, changing the country’s carnal landscape forever. At the helm of this Viagra revolution was Jamie Randall (Jake Gyllenhaal), a Pfizer sales representative who coincidentally chased money and sales the same way he chased women.

“Love and Other Drugs” follows Randall’s climb to pharmaceutical glory and everything that happens in between. Entering the market during the battle between Pfizer-backed Zoloft and its competitor Prozac, Jamie struggles to find his footing in the cutthroat world of pharmaceutical sales. After finding his inner marketing hound, he quickly learns how to bribe and sleep his way to first place. Just as he is about to taste the spoils of success, he falls for 26-year-old Maggie Murdock (Anne Hathaway), a self-proclaimed “drug slut” who suffers from early onset Parkinson’s disease.

Gyllenhaal and Hathaway play the roles of hot and heavy lovers perfectly. Their chemistry is profound and they make their characters as layered and dynamic as characters in a Woody Allen movie. Hathaway’s vulnerability, angst and strength propel the story just as much as Gyllenhaal’s boyish charm and playfulness.

The core of this film may lay in the depth and complexity of Maggie and Jamie’s relationship, but the underlying subtext is the darker side of the pharmaceutical world, and by default, our country’s fledgling health care system. Maggie’s dependency on prescription drugs speaks volumes about the emotional and financial hold pharmaceutical companies have on people in this country.

The message of the film seems to be the following: The pharmaceutical companies aren’t providing solutions, they are after money and money only. Their patients seek normality and redemption in the drugs they take; what they find instead is high dependency and even higher medical bills. Maggie’s dependency on prescriptions and struggle with Parkinson’s is the heart of the movie. It isn’t until she meets Jamie and others struggling with Parkinson’s that she gains a new fervor for life, defines love with her own terms and finally finds the fulfillment medicine could never bring. Director Edward Zwick takes what could have been just another run-of-the-mill rom-com and turns it into a piece with  smart social commentary brought on by brilliant actors and just enough comedy to keep viewers hooked.

Movie: Love and Other Drugs

Directed by: Edward Zwick

Release Date: Nov. 24

Grade: A

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