Saturday, February 12, 2011

Short Takes: "Love and Other Drugs" and "Hereafter".

More than the "Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhall Naked Variety Show", this movie is a sadly overdone ode to complicated love. Sure, Anne and Jake are naked a lot and as good a marketing angle as that might've been, the truth is that they are remarkable not because of their bubble butts and perfect stomachs but because of the nakedness of their performances (corny to say it but true...).
Gyllenhaal plays womanizing Pfizer medical representative Jamie. Hathaway plays Maggie, the cynical, early onset Parkinson's disease, patient he falls for.
They try to make it all about sex but movie conventions have showed us that before soon they'll be entangled in some messy emotional issues.
When this happens the movie gives its lead actors a chance to shine, the rest however is a confused mess that makes it seem as if the editor and the director were on some weird emotion altering pill.
The film alternates between moods in such an uneven way that it's impossible for the filmmakers to say they were doing a cute postmodernist take on the drug experience through editing. The whole thing is jut muddled filmmaking.
It's nice then to see Gyllenhaal stretching his limited chops to explore a more aggressive character, someone unafraid to come off as a total jerk and win our hearts by the end (George Clooney would've played him in the 90's...).
And it obviously comes as no surprise that Anne Hathaway is all sorts of magnificent. The little things she gives Maggie are stunningly detailed without being show-offs. She could've played this woman with pity and gone over the top to deliver her message, however she does quite the opposite and slowly lets Maggie become who she is.
Watching Hathaway go from sexiness to raw pain is the one truly addictive thing about this movie.


Clint Eastwood has got to be one of the most overrated working directors, yet at the same time some of his films are so subtle and misunderstood that he seems to be slightly underrated.
Such is the case with Hereafter, a haunting romantic drama that fails to ignite the tragic passion The Bridges of Madison County did but is still able to steer off the preachy stubbornness of Changeling.
The script (written by Peter Morgan) seems to be getting its line from the Iñárritu school of "connecting random dots to achieve universal catharsis" and as such, we see how the lives of former psychic George (Damon), French tsunami survivor Marie (de France) and British boy Marcus (Frankie McLaren) are united by death and then brought together by the magic of the movies.
Eastwood however directs taking his cue from the school of Clint and turns the film into a meditative examination of life in times of chaos. Hereafter takes its time to make its point but it's never a slow movie. In fact Clint plays with the story so well that for a moment we doubt it's leading to the place where it eventually takes us to.
This makes it a curious experiment and the film often feels as moody as the characters are tragic. Damon gives a superbly restrained performance but the film perhaps belongs to the stunning de France. Her bittersweet portrayal of Marie is infused with a cruel tenderness that gives her such rich layers. Her story is often at risk of becoming the most convoluted and corny, yet she handles it with such class that you really don't care when the movie tries to turn her into a paperback romance heroine.
The ending of Hereafter might turn off some who feel Clint's gone senile, surrendered to love and just teased us for 130 minutes with the promise of turning on his darkness and delivering one of his intense takes on justice.
However those willing to look past the sensationalism the movie deals with, will be rewarded with a heartbreaking tale that tells us to stop worrying about what's to come when all we really have is today.

Love and Other Drugs **
Hereafter ***

5 comments:

Candice Frederick said...

hmmm...love and other drugs looks as bad as you say it was. i think anne and jake are decent actors but i doubt they'll impress me in that movie. i always thought matt damon was underrated as an actor. he's so so good to me. interested to see hereafter after your review.

CMrok93 said...

Love and Other Drugs isn't terrible, but yet it's not amazing at the same time. Anne and Jake do the best to their ability to make this film work, and I found their chemistry to be the real heart of this film. Good Review!

Luke said...

Wow - I'm kind of in total shock right now at how completely and utterly in sync you and I are with these two movies! You almost literally took the words from my mouth! Incredible!

My qualm with L&OD was that the moods changed so drastically and so often I couldn't pinpoint what the meaning of it all was... And then the poor plight of Hereafter - which I enjoyed far more than most Eastwood efforts (your allusions to Bridges and Changeling are completely dead-on exactly how I feel). And I agree that Damon was stellar, but de France was the real find - I wish she'd gotten more traction in awards season.

So to sum it up, amazing job speaking to your audience - I'm 100% behind your assessment. :)

Jose said...

Candice: yes, I think people were too harsh on it because it was Clint.
Haha, poor Anne, give her a try!

CMrok93: they have great chemistry indeed.

Luke: I'm very glad you enjoyed these. Good to know we're in sync ;)
Maybe it's a sign we should get to work on that actor piece with Andrew soon huh?

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

Yeah, we'd work on the actor piece now and you two would team up against me? I don't think so! (Though, I agree with you. So potential crises averted.)

Seriously, though, as mediocre as LOVE & OTHER DRUGS was Anne was amazing. And you know how sceptical of her I am. Honestly, I watched this and I finally realised why people find her so lovable - if only the movie was better, because she and Gyllenhaal really have some good chemistry going there.

(PS. Am I the only one who hasn't seen Biutiful?)