I saw "Love and Other Drugs" last night and left the theater wondering who wrote it, not out of any particular reverence or even curiosity, but more as a question of their humanity. The film stars Anne Hathaway as a 26-year-old with early onset Parkinson's disease. She is pursued by a Pfizer drug rep, played by Jake Gyllenhall, who takes it upon himself to "cure" her.
Admittedly, I was taken by Hathaway and Gyllenhall's performance, and the way they both seemed to fully internalize the particulars of their relationship. But the film hedges on this fine line between the drama of emerging love and the melodrama of living with a frustrating and degenerative disease -- all thrust upon young, beautiful people. I don't doubt that these things happen; actually, I believe these circumstances arise more often than the film implies. And yes, sitting in a movie theater late at night with my boyfriend, having just escaped San Jose's Christmas in the Park, I was sold by moments of sappiness.
Perhaps more interesting than the question of romance, however, was this underlying exploration of a young woman and her body. There is a scene where she wanders conveniently into a convention for people with Parkinson's, and she listens as people of all ages relive the frustrations of their lives with humor and perspective--seeing an actual community for the first time. As a type 1 diabetic for nearly 10 years, I know that feeling all too well: the relief you feel when you realize that there are others out there whose daily lives mirror your own, whose secret conversations with their organs are ones you understand, whose arguments with their health insurance, doctors and employers are all too familiar. And perhaps more than anything, the desire to be more self-sufficient than perhaps might be possible.
It's worth noting that the film is an adaptation of the memoir "Hard to Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman" by Jamie Reidy, and the character played by Anne Hathaway is a fictional addition for the film.
I suppose I wanted to find some flaw in this film to prove something about the real truth about living with a chronic condition. And the movie does make many of the same mistakes that all holiday-era romantic comedies make. But I guess there's a part of me that wants to see the credentials of whoever it was that wrote this, to grant a sense of legitimacy to those of us who feel that our stories are ours to tell, and in their retelling they might not be so strange and sad.