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A Love/Sick Movie (a Sick Love Story)

A review of the film "Love & Other Drugs."

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Love & Other Drugs DVD
New on video last week was Love and Other Drugs, a thought-provoking, albeit relatively underdeveloped, film that highlights some interesting topics for those living with chronic illness. It begins with Jamie (Jake Gyllenhaal), a footloose lady-killer/pharmaceutical rep who takes us on a journey showing the back-office sales strategies by which the pharmaceutical industry influences doctors and their prescription-writing choices. Through one of these escapades he meets Maggie (Anne Hathaway), a chronically-ill yet highly virile young woman afflicted by early-onset Parkinson’s disease. They meet. They tryst. They vow not to get attached…and fail.

What I like about this film is its exploration of the challenges in managing a romantic relationship while living with chronic illness. Certainly the glamorous Viagra salesman story is also interesting in itself, and all the marketing (and reviews) for this movie pretend it to be about this subject. But hidden behind that allurement are the more compelling topics of romance and illness, learning to care for someone and adapt to their needs, the potential for the sick partner to hold the healthy one back (or more importantly, the perception thereof), the construction of emotional protection barriers, and the negotiation of resulting complications.

There are things I dislike about it too, despite some fine acting performances. For the most part it’s a relatively hollow shell of a story with a lot of gratuitous embellishments (visual and otherwise, if you catch my meaning). It falls for all the Hollywood clichés about men and women and relationships, while it fails to come anywhere close to truly investigating the themes it introduces. Yes, the deeper layers are certainly missing, but it does provide enough structure for the viewer to fill in their own meaning.

I recommend seeing it—not necessarily for the specific details of the story, but more for the issues it touches upon. There is plenty of food for thought and discussion within. I suspect many folks like me, who live this scenario on a daily basis, won’t find the story particularly believable or well-told. But again, it’s interesting to see a film that explores these topics, even if it is hollowed by the Hollywood luster. 

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Tags: Advocacy (Making a Difference) , Narratives , Supplies/Accessories/Equipment

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About the Author

Andrew Tubesing is an acclaimed advocate and humorist on the subject of inflammatory bowel disease.

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