Jamie Randall (Gyllenhaal) is a playboy enjoying the simple pleasures in life and the black sheep of his established family. He has no real direction and at the suggestion of his brother Josh (Gad) he takes on the role of pharmaceutical sales representative with Pfizer. Maggie Murdock (Hathaway) is a free-spirited sarcastic individual and refuses to be tied down by anyone or anything. It is set in 1997 when the pharmaceutical industry was rocked by the arrival of one drug: Viagra. Jamie is the new inexperienced guy using his near on infallible charm to meet his sales targets, against a fierce rival (Macht). One fateful morning, after pestering Dr Knight (Azaria), he finds himself in an examination room and we have our meet cute.
Love and Other Drugs is a movie that can’t quite decide what genre it fits in. This adds a fascinating twist to the typical formulaic rom-com fare. It starts off predictably enough – womaniser meets the woman that wants sex with no strings attached, eventually she becomes the woman that changes him blah blah. It then develops into a drama with Maggie’s intense revelation as they attempt to have a relationship, with some American Pie style subplots at the hands of Jamie’s younger brother Josh. It has the potential to become something unique as it takes a stab at the pharmaceutical industry but unfortunately falls short and ends quite predictably.
Edward Zwick’s erratic directing style gives a disjointed feel to the story, but Gyllenhaal and Hathaway with some incredible acting manage to keep you interested in this very realistic portrayal of the unpredictability of relationships. The chemistry between the two leads is palpable and engaging and distracts from the longer than usual running time. Academy Award nominations for them both wouldn’t surprise me. Azaria and Platt are great in their roles and scene stealers. The script is often razor sharp and witty and, unusually for a love story, both characters grow throughout the movie not just one waiting for the other to mature.
I have to say that at times I did feel uncomfortable with its frank raw look at a key part of relationships today – sex. It felt like, what I presume would be, soft porn. Bearing that in mind, if you watch it see this for what it is, a beautiful story of love and life that has more heart than most.