Sunday, 21 August 2011

Choice and Other Tricks.

I watched Love and Other Drugs today, a second time. I cried again, because when the script gets sparse we're good at filling in all the words that you think they're thinking, creating the perfect script to make you weep. Also, there's lots of really good sex. By which I mean, they don't judge the sex, everyone's consenting, and it looks good. (They're such a handsome couple, with great chemistry, which helps :) )

At the end the guy's voice internal-monologues the epilogue and ties up ends.

And that's when I got frustrated - I realised I've been describing this as a story about two people, a woman who has a degenerative illness and doesn't want to watch someone look after her, and a guy with questionable self-esteem and a competitive, but good, nature.
But it's not: it's a story about him. And I realised that because it's his voice that finishes the story, which I thought was pretty crappy. The story in itself is as much about Maggie accepting an option as it is about Jamie accepting her future - they're both choose love over difficultly. They could've had both of them monologue together or alternating.

But then, really, they couldn't. We meet his family, his brother, his workmates, his workplace more often, his dilemmas. Yet she's the one dealing with the biggest thing in his life - being someone with Parkinson's.
And he's a hero for staying. She has no option to be a hero - coping alone looks tough but is not sensible; accepting help is sensible, but not 'tough' unless its facing-up-to-my-fear-of-helplessness. Either way, she has no choice, she just has to deal.
There is one point where Maggie makes a choice about him when she pushes him away. (This seems to be pretty much the only kind of choice she can make - its an extension of what power she showed when she clearly defined the relationship in its beginning: "This is escapism sex; enjoy!") The break-up is based on something like "You need to know that I'll get better for you to love me." They see a few other people, he drives after her bus and changes her mind. He gets to choose. The guys gets to choose, again.
But all of this is beside the point when spotting who's story this is. The screen time his life gets, over hers, is all it takes in this film.

My frustration is this: All I need was to see enough of her story to be under the impression that it was a story about them, not him. That's all it took - a bit of Maggie-solo screen time - for me to think it was her story too. But, on reflection, I think that those scenes (less maybe one, at a stretch) really served to show us what Jamie would be looking forward to, how awful it is, how hard it is, how much strength he'd need.

I suspect that this has been presented as a two-person story, not least because publicity has been with both leads (mostly) due to their great (thoroughly deserved) appeal. But I don't think its 'their story' at all, and I wonder if the leads thought it was a 'their story' too.

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