Anne Hathaway shines in “Love and Other Drugs”

By Alissa Mesibov

“Love and Other Drugs” takes viewers back to a time when most of the current University of Massachusetts student body was watching Nicktoons before a 9 p.m. bedtime. Without the influence of iPods and portable laptop computers, Edward can explore a beautiful whirlwind of a relationship without the kitschy and barely comical scenes of video chatting or dropped phone calls.

The film is based on Jamie Reidy’s book, “Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman.” It is 1996, and Jamie Randall (Jake Gyllenhaal), a charming but directionless man in his 20s goes from job to job, all of which are conveniently in customer service, giving him ample opportunity for one night stands, an apparent favorite pastime of his. After much hounding from his family, he takes his brother’s suggestion to become a drug representative for Pfizer, a top, but not the best, pharmaceutical company.

He meets Maggie (Anne Hathaway), a free spirited 26-year-old with early onset Parkinson ’s disease, whom also despises the state of the pharmaceutical system in the United States. Their one night stand turns into months, during which Pfizer debuts Viagra, which becomes an instant hit in the pharmaceutical world, and Jamie becomes one of their top salesmen. Though there are bumps in the road of their relationship, they predictably end up together.

Zwick’s direction of the film is well executed. The unusual shots and lighting make it feel more like a higher-budget independent film, rather than a typical Hollywood romantic comedy. However, he seemed to be a bit overzealous about nudity, and it was rather overdone to the point of becoming completely unnecessary. The script, which he co-wrote with Charles Randolph and Marshall Herskovitz is witty, yet realistic.

The role of Jamie Randolph was not much of a stretch for Gyllenhaal, but he played the role undeniably well. It is easy to see how the character charmed his way into or out of any situation of his desire. Gyllenhaal’s playful and carefree demeanor is perfectly suited to the role. However, his passion for finding a doctor who can cure Maggie comes too suddenly and too intensely. The screenplay does have some role in this, but Gyllenhaal emphasized it to an unrealistic and even bizarre degree.

Hathaway was the true standout of the film. The character of Maggie required Hathaway to cover an entire spectrum of emotion that goes beyond what most people have to deal with because of Maggie’s sometimes debilitating condition. She is able to go from fun-loving and caring to drunken and enraged seamlessly. It is safe to say that Hathaway has proven her worth as a top dramatic actress between this and 2008’s “Rachel Getting Married.”

Though predictable, “Love and Other Drugs” is a film worth seeing. It is undeniably funny, cute, touching, and very good for a romantic comedy, though a little more originality in the film’s conclusion could have given it the potential to be far more memorable.

Alissa Mesibov can be reached for comment at [email protected].