Since I appreciate good-looking naked people as much as the next Swede, the Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway-vehicle “Love and Other Drugs” was not wasted on me. Telling the story of a handsome layabout (both lazy and a ladykiller) from an overachieving family who finds success and “twue wuv” through the selling of Viagra and the love of a good-but-diseased woman, Ed Zwick’s film fires on all cyclinders but falls short on a fair few. If the hardest part of writing is actually doing it, the second most difficult thing about writing is deciding what to cut. Zwick and his two writing buddies seem to have struggled to work out which bits of the movie should get the chop. As a result Zwick and his expensive cast have ended up with a hodge-podge of about four different movies: “Up in the Air” meets “Thank you for smoking” meets “The 40-year old Virgin” meets “Love Story”. Two of those would be a nice pairing, three’s a crowd and, well, four is “Love and Other Drugs”. It’s not bad – it’s just a bit much, and not really enough of each to make a solidly good film.
Sadly, as there’s something about her off-screen smugness which reminds me of my high school nemesis, Anne Hathaway is really good as the female romantic lead, a beautiful artist with Stage One Parkinson’s. Yes, it’s a clichéd part, but she did it exceptionally well, showing signs of real intensity and individuality. (I cried during her emotional disasters, though I cry during television ads, so maybe that’s not a sign of cinematic genius). Jake Gyllenhaal is clearly making a play for heartthrob status with this part. Nevertheless, he is pretty unconvincing as a player, because he doesn’t come across as being actually attracted to any of the women involved – despite the naked sex scenes and his triumphant “I mean, that’s what people do when they’re in love” spiel at the press conference. I can see why he was attracted to the part of the salesman gone good, as it gives him leeway to explore insecurities and anxiety in a controlled, high budget environment. There’s no doubt that he’s a talented actor. But for me, he falls short as a romantic lead, despite his buff body, charm and twinkly baby-blues, because I simply can’t imagine him being overwhelmed by love and attraction; a quality which all the great leading men have in spades.
Braving torrential rainfall, I made it to The Dorchester in time to see Matt Cardle of X Factor fame walking in for a photo shoot (cute, but on the short side). The press conference saw me sitting next to the photographer from Hello!, as we discussed whether or not Jake was dating Taylor Swift. (As a member of Team Kanye, it annoys me that people still feel sorry for her. The MTV effort was funny, her video WAS boring, her PR team have helped her make an absolute fortune out of it and Kanye has since cut down on his drinking. Everybody wins.). The male journos asked extensively about the nudity – go figure. Jake Gyllenhaal made a joke about only doing it out of vanity as he was in great shape at the time, which made me like him again. I asked Anne Hathaway, who had been spouting PR-speak about “the great script”, if she hadn’t been concerned, as a “serious actress”, about basically playing Ali McGraw’s character in “Love Story”. She was busted for not having seen it (so much for “research”…) and tried being snarky as Zwick made an “I was hoping she wouldn’t have to answer that question”-face; congratulations abounded in the cloakroom afterwards from the other female journos. All in all, a film worth seeing on a plane or on a hungover Sunday – you won’t feel you’ve wasted your life watching it, but it’s not making it into my top 10 romcoms.