I love Edward Zwick and for a long time I had no idea he directed this movie until his name came up on the screen. His talent with actors is clear in this film which is in a way a historical picture. We’re used to his historical action films like The Last Samurai and Defiance. Here the film starts in 1996 and the movie feels like a 90’s picture. The music is perfect all the way through and even the way the films paced feels like a movie straight out of the late nineties. This film follows two very interesting young people. The first being Jame, played by Jake Gyllenhaal who is a medical school drop out, who now is a flirtatious salesman who lays pretty much every woman he talks to. His brother played by Josh Glad is a nerd who got rich young. Will return to Glad later who almost grounded this movie to a halt with his minor and pointless character. Anyway Jamie who can’t impress his parents changes jobs and becomes a pharmaceutical salesman. He uses his charm and good looks to sneak his way into hospitals and pitch his drugs to doctors. One of those doctors is Dr. Knight played by the amazing Hank Azaria. While trying to impress the man he meet Maggie(Anne Hathaway) and his advances on her fall flat from the get go. He doesn’t quit and continues to flirt her up. This leads to a romance that is strictly sexual at first. Zwick doesn’t hesitate to hit us over the head with this. Both leads are naked A LOT, sure both of them look amazing, and the nudity is the prove a point. An interesting twist they don’t show in the commercials is that Hathaway’s Maggie has Parkinson’s and as she tries to make sure her life isn’t directed by it, she can’t help but run into issues with it in her relationship with Jamie.
The movie does not exactly show the pharmaceutical business in a good light. Jamie is hound dog who basically uses his talent to sell a product. The people he work for don’t seem to care about consequences when pushing certain pills. It’s obviously clear that they cared much more about selling Zoloft then actually helping people. Jamie’s character avoids these complicated issues by simply making it a game. Everything is game until he meets Maggie, then suddenly his success matters nothing compared to just being around a woman he tried so hard not to love. The movie rely’s heavily on the performances of Hathaway and Gyllenhall, without them the movie would just not work. They are both charming and play off each other very well. There are other stand out performances by Oliver Platt and Azaria. The one performance which is so bad it almost ruins the film is the brother of Jamie played by Josh Gad. The character alone is just a fat, porn addicted, disgusting human being. They try to redeem him late in the movie where he claims he would hate to have empty sex with woman like his brother did, it did not save him. He’s so awful it distracts you from what is going on in the film. I understand he was brought in for comic relief but he is simply too disgusting and over the top. Still over all it is a minor issue as the leads power pst this poor performance and poorly written character.
Most our interest rests on the complex relationship between Jamie and Maggie as they go from wild sex partners, to friends, and then soul mates. Hathaway deserves any award she gets for this performance. She goes from sex symbol to a woman broken by her illness in a way that will simply melt your heart. Gyllenhaal transformers from a selfish womanizer to a selfless man in love and his performance as well should get attention. This is a memorable love story and one that resonates, along with getting a message across about Parkinsons, and America’s love affair with medical drugs.