Set in the mid-'90s, Love introduces Gyllenhaal's Jamie Randall, a fast-talking charmer able to sell dodgy hi-fi equipment with ease. He's the perennial under-achiever in his family, though, seeing his sister in medicine and his younger brother get rich from his software company. He spies a quick route to wealth as a drugs rep for Pfizer, and crosses paths with the alluring Maggie Murdock (Anne Hathaway) while shadowing Hank Azaria's doctor. The attraction is instant and the pair fall into bed, although Maggie is in stage 1 of Parkinson's disease and, fearing nobody will love her because of this, keeps herself at an emotional distance.
The pair's feelings for each other grow and they eventually move from casual lovers to boyfriend and girlfriend. Pfizer, meanwhile, makes a breakthrough when it learns of a side-effect of sildenafil citrate (Viagra) and Jamie's career springs into life. At times he struggles with Maggie's disease more than she does, jetting all over the country trying to find treatments and look for a cure. It's admirable of Zwick to target a more mature, grown-up crowd with Love, although at times it veers off on tangents becoming several movies-within-movies. Judd Apatow-style humour rules Jamie's relationship with brother John (Josh Gad), there's the rising corporate star strand, a look at the morally flexible pharmaceutical industry. It's in the love story that Zwick finds his rhythm, making Gyllenhaal and Hathaway bare all (sometimes literally) in front of each other. In particular, Jamie's panic attack when he tells Maggie he loves her and Hathaway's breakdown after a particularly gruelling day dealing with her disease really hit home.
The wheels begin to fall off at the end as Zwick relies on a tried-and-trusted genre convention to get his two parted lovers back together. Mercifully it's not a dash to the airport, although very much along those lines. As a whole, Love & Other Drugs strives to balance bawdy humour, gooey sentiment and emotional resonance. It's not always completely successful, but it's a refreshing and honest look at the highs and lows of romance. There's a lot to admire in this pharmaceutical rom-com, it's just a shame about all that predictable soppyness at the end.
> What do you think of the movie? Share your views