On paper, Love & Other Drugs could read like a soppy medical melodrama with its sole purpose to reduce you constantly to tears. And certainly there are plenty of ups and downs and teary romantic declarations, but there's also just enough reality, good acting, sharp lines and sexual chemistry to make this an enjoyable mainstream love story.
Set against the backdrop of the cut-throat world of pharmaceutical sales in the 90s (the decade of the Upper, antidepressants and Viagra), Love & Other Drugs is more serious and wittier than the average romantic comedy.
While this doesn't disguise that the story still follows a generic romantic drama/comedy route, it does mean you don't feel bad about falling for it.
Director Edward Zwick, known for his more manly films like Defiance, The Last Samurai and Courage Under Fire, harks back to his Thirtysomething TV days for what is a relationship drama.
Gyllenhaal is Jamie Randall, a sleazy, competitive pharmaceutical rep happy to sleep his way from the front desk to the back office of any doctor's clinic to get his products on the shelf. Gyllenhaal is not a natural womaniser and tries too hard to come across like one, but his performance becomes more genuine when he meets and falls for Maggie Murdock (Hathaway), a patient with early onset Parkinson's disease who shares Jamie's passion for meaningless sex.
Love & Other Drugs tries really hard not to turn into a soppy Hallmark card, but it doesn't shy away from the difficult situation the two lovers find themselves in. And one of the reasons why this film is tolerable is because it doesn't overly focus on Maggie's illness. She might be a young woman with a serious degenerative disorder, but at least as much attention is given to Jamie, with his complex self-esteem issues and fear of intimacy.
This isn't the first time Hathaway, that lovely young girl from the kid's flick The Princess Diaries, has bared her breasts to Gyllenhaal, with them having shared a notable quickie in the back of a car in Brokeback Mountain. It is, though, the first time she's bared herself a lot in a film, and the sexual chemistry is convincing. Which comes with a warning, there's enough steamy sex and nudity in Love & Other Drugs to make it awkward viewing for a first date.
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway
Director: Edward Zwick
Running time: 112 mins
Rating:R16 (Offensive language & sex scenes)