Rating: 3 stars out of 5
The Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, Oliver Platt, Hank Azaria, Josh Gad
The Story: Jamie is a charming and affable salesman wasting his life away selling stereos in an electronics store during the mid-1990s’. That is until he applies his panache for peddling into something more lucrative – pharmaceutical sales. Working for industry giant Pfizer, Jamie is thrust into the shark tank as he runs around trying to meet quotas selling Zoloft before climaxing (professionally) with the advent of a new drug called Viagra.
Along the way he meets the stunning and stubbornly self-reliant Maggie, a patient suffering from early-onset Parkinson’s. They soon enter into a casual sexual relationship. Neither wants love, they simply love sex. Nevertheless their relationship evolves into something deeper, forcing Jamie and Maggie to strip away their defences as they become intoxicated with a drug riddled with more side-effects than any other – love.
The Buzz: This film is loosely based on a non-fiction book entitled ‘Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman’ by Jamie Reidy. In it, Jamie offers a candid and self-deprecating account of his experiences as a drug rep for Pfizer and Eli Lilly, which gives the somewhat unethical practices seen in the film a strain of believability.
inSing says: A little bit like Thank You For Smoking meets Jerry Maguire, this films revolves around the archetypical smooth-talking, self-loathing salesman who struggles to lose his cynicism when he meets the love of his life. The twist here is that girl is just as confident and secretly insecure as he is, actually even more so. While Jamie has the usual bachelor syndrome, Maggie is infinitely more fascinating. Her impenetrable wall is only constructed because she knows any man that loves her will be damned, forever burdened by her degenerative disease.
These characters are gifted with neuroses more pronounced and substantial than those normally found in your average rom-com. Gyllenhaal and Hathaway, to their credit, play their roles with tenacity - you feel their euphoria and afflictions full-on at every turn. Hathaway in particular has these ridiculous manga-esque features that captivate; her loveable oval eyes alone can melt your heart or freeze you solid.
Despite the emotional pull its leads accomplish, it’s the flow of the narrative that lets the film down. It starts out as satire of the drug industry, turns into explicit sex-romp, morphs into an insider account of the Viagra boom before detouring into standard romance tropes in its climax. I’m not sure director Ed Zwick entirely knows what this movie is supposed to be and as a result Love & Other Drugs is less than the sum of its stellar parts.