Just back from RWA in NYC and feeling good, Riva author Heidi Rice waxes lyrical about a wonderfully romantic and very sexy new take on the old Love Story formula which she watched on the plane back...
Okay, everyone knows I've got a little soft spot for Jake Gyllenhaal, not only is he super hot but he can also act (Brokeback Mountain anyone!). But I have to admit I'm also a big fan of one of his co-stars in Brokeback Anne Hathaway, who like Jake has managed to break out of the teen fare that originally defined her (namely The Princess Diaries) and make a name for herself as a class act. So Love and Other Drugs seemed like a no-brainer when I spotted it on the in-flight movie menu, and despite terrible airplane sound, and constant interruptions for announcements and toilet breaks, etc, I was hooked by this movie.
Love and Other Drugs is an entirely new take on the old heroine-dying-of-an-incurable-disease formula once popularised by that old tearjerker Love Story. So entirely new in fact that it defies the formula completely. For starters, we know when we first meet Anne's character Maggie Murdock that she is stricken with a rare form of Parkinson's Disease. And despite her illness Jake's character Jamie Randall falls instantly in lust with her. Not only is she smart, sassy, sexy and facing her prognosis with remarkable pragmatism and wit, but she's also keen to keep things as shallow as possible... Something that Viagra salesman and all-around slick operator Jamie already excels at.
How their relationship changes and evolves as Maggie's illness becomes more pronounced and she is forced to reveal a more vulnerable side and Jamie falls in love — firstly because he wants to save her, but eventually because she ends up saving him — is both intelligent, romantic and devoid of the usual manipulative heart-string tugging melodrama that this subject matter an often promote.
This isn't a film about Maggie's death, or even her illness, it's a love story in the truest sense of the word. It's a romance between two people who both have a lot of growing and changing to do before they can get to their happy-ever-after or rather happy-for-as-long-as-it-last.
Bravo to both actors and to an intelligent script which actually acknowledges that the most important thing about terminal illness isn't really about how you die from it, but how you live with it.
Heidi is currently racing through revisions on her 11th book for M&B. Her latest Riva, Cupcakes and Killer Heels is still available in the UK. While her latest Presents Extra, Surf Sea and a Sexy Stranger is available in the US. Come have a natter on her blog, Facebook, her website and on Twitter (@HeidiRomRice).