February 5, 2013 by CINEfaction Movie Review.
Its a film that doesn’t quite know what it is. Is it a film about the ever expanding morally murky world of pharmaceuticals or is it a re-run of the much tried and very tested love through adversity shtick? If i’m honest i don’t think either story presented here is particularly engaging or interesting but if Zwick were to have focused on just one maybe the movie would have been at least bearable.
I must say that Hathaway does the best she can with what she is given here and is believable as a trodden artist cum parkinsons suffer. She handles the superficially complex duality of her character with aplomb allowing herself to be both (seemingly) care free and independent whilst always relying or needing the attentions/affections of a suitably shallow male; played here by Jake Gyllenhaal. Just to be clear, Gyllenhaal will never be an actor of substance, he is too defined by his odd mannerisms and his strange, intriguing looks. Here Gyllenhaal re-treads the familiar Tom Cruise, Matthew MacCournehey styled cock sure alpha male, who is of course always slightly more fractured than his bravado would have us believe. Like previously stated, its all a little tired.
Probably the most tiresome element of the film is the regularity of the ‘sex’. Since the re-emergence of R-rated comedies we have been peppered with crude references to hyper real sexual situations but this definitely the most insulting example of the trend. Here sex is used to make the film seem more adult and grown up, when in reality the way the screenplay treats the ‘real’ elements of the plot is superfluous and superficial. The sex is never a plot device nor does it aid us in getting to know the characters, its just something that happens like when a car blows up in an action movie and our hero doesn’t even react to it as he walks away. Therefore, the disease is never dissected or respected nor is it ever used a serious tool. It does however feel more like a desperate, transparent and basic attempt to make Hathaway more likable and therefore by association Gyllenhaal, if only because he sticks around and still wants to have sex with her. The parallel between Gyllenhaals job and Hathaways disease should the movies emotional anchor but instead its largely ignored as we watch them fool around. I do understand that the characters are both ignoring the elephant in the room as it were, but here it feels laboured and shallow and not grown up and challenging.
Finally, i am not someone who cant enjoy the simple pleasures of these types of film. If you were to ask me, i would champion movies like Friends With Benefits which somehow manages to both syrupy, occasionally serious and often racy all with equal success. This is surely down to the two fun-loving leads and its neat and tidy screenplay. I would even reference something like Knocked Up for a movie that walks a similarly ‘adult’ path with more regular levels of success.
Its a shame then to watch a film with such talent behind it (Zwick is/was full of promise, Hathaway is by all accounts a good actress) become something that is just so empty and never-mind unfunny.