fairly well-acted and a nice screenplay, but didn’t work for me. reminded me of thank you for not smoking, but i think we were supposed to like the characters in this film. todd solondz once had an interview for fresh air and he talked about the challenge of making characters who were not likable, but still somehow liked by the audience on some level. he remarked that you could just give the character cancer and take the easy road out, but that that’s not really character development. that’s kinda what they do with this film. they have two characters who i would never want to be friends with, but one of them has a disease so i’m theoretically supposed to have feelings for them and their situation. gyllenhaal’s character in any other film would probably be the villain, but here he’s the hero for some reason. he’s vacuous, egotistic, materialistic and sells zoloft as if it were a used car. he’s a despicable character by most accounts, but he falls in love with a diseased fuck buddy (hathaway) and now we’re supposed to like him? i think it worked for a lot of the women in the audience based upon the giggles everytime he did some klutzy thing. women are almost as simple as men in this regard. klutzy good looking asshole = chick with huge tits.
gyllenhaal and hathaway are both good here. hathaway is trying to be an upper echelon actor, but she’s not there yet. her acting is obvious when she’s shaking and having her disease-induced (she has stage one parkinson’s) breakdown. but she’s pretty solid otherwise. she’s taking fairly good roles, but i don’t know that she’s worked with a great director on the right film yet. rachel getting married was supposed to be it and i think she thought this was going to be it too, but neither was actually very good. she has the potential, though, so she’ll probably get there eventually.
the worst thing about this film may have been that the screenplay had real potential to be a nice little love story as well as a great social commentary on the healthcare system in our country. there were plenty of digs at the industry, especially early on, and we see hathaway’s character trying to navigate the system without insurance (paying with cash, going to canada for drugs, etc.), but, meanwhile, her boyfriend is part of the problem. the tacked on ending where he sort of grows a soul just didn’t work because i couldn’t believe that his character would transform like that. just like i didn’t believe the scene where she asks him to say four nice things about himself and he can’t come up with anything. really? a serial philanderer and egotist can’t say a few nice things about himself? in retrospect, maybe gyllenhaal just didn’t sell it for me. nah, i think it was the writing.