I really randomly picked this movie to watch last Saturday night. I had no idea what it was about and felt in the mood to just watch some silly romantic comedy, which I thought this was. I was wrong about that. Love & Other Drugs is a story of the romantic relationship between a young woman in the first stage of Parkinson’s disease (Anne Hathaway) and a Pfizer sales rep (Jake Gyllenhaal). Overall the whole thing seemed kind of slapped together without a strong narrative to tie each scene to each other. The love story was underwhelming and the commentary on the pharmaceutical industry was disappointingly timid and cautious.
The scenes in which Hathaway’s character has trouble doing simple tasks because her hands are shaking hit close to home for me, as when I have RA flare ups, simple things like opening bottles also becomes an overwhelming and painful task. I also related to the idea of feeling like I have to be self-sufficient and cannot rely on someone to take care of me should my personal symptoms become worse. Those are, however, the only aspects of the film that I was able to connect with.
There was so much room to play with in terms of pointing out the negative aspects of Big Pharma, that was used instead to tip-toe around, and kind of, sort of, make a point about the drug industry. The film could have also been used as a platform for the understanding of Parkinson’s disease, but this also was relegated to the back pages. It never got further than touching on the facts that there is no cure, tremors are involved, and it is somehow related to certain regions of the brain. I was not expecting a Parkinson’s 101 lesson, but I was left with the feeling that this disease was used simply as a plot device and nothing more. One scene featured Parkinson’s patients sharing their frustrations and hopes with each other at a convention of sorts, but even that felt like an awkward amateur stand-up line up after a few minutes, followed by a saccharine “life is beautiful, keep the hope” message. This scene, like the rest of the movie, felt like a really safe way to skirt around serious issues without really pausing and examining them in a deeper way.
Needless to say, by the end of the film, which is also (surprise!) super sappy and sentimental I had no interest in any of the character’s involved, which is really too bad because it felt like the movie had the potential to be something much better than it was. And don’t even get me started on the poor choice of soundtrack through most of the film…