LOVE & OTHER DRUGS * * *
Cert 15, 112 mins
Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway were always going to make for an attractive couple who can’t keep their hands off each other.
Even so, this comedy drama from Legends of the Fall director Edward Zwick can’t make up its mind what kind of movie it wants to be.
Is it an unusually explicit sex-fuelled romp about love’s young dream?
Or it is a disease of the week movie?
The answer is neither, really, as Zwick ends up trapping us in an emotion-free wasteland where too much of the fuel is of the kind normally to be found in gross-out movies from the likes of Judd Apatow.
And so, 40 years after the leukaemia-driven Love Story, Zwick bases this film in the mid 1990s and takes us on a bizarre journey into female Parkinson’s....with the arrival of male Viagra thrown in.
Hathaway, who has only just turned 28 in real life, plays artist Maggie Murdock who has an early-onset form of the disease.
Gyllenhaal’s Jamie Randall is from a family of medics who has had to become sales rep to stay in medicine.
When they eventually meet, both characters are in need of a vigorous escape from the worlds which trap them in different ways.
Cue the first of several physical encounters of the breathless kind.
In fairness, it makes something of a change to see modern actors going for it on a horizontal plane – though the way Miss Hathaway initially exposes herself (and the reason for it) sums up just what a misguided movie this often is.
Gyllenhaal is still impeccably toned after his Prince of Persia gymnastics, so girls will probably enjoy the beefcake just as most men will appreciate Miss Hathaway’s daring decision to go far beyond the dazzle of Julia Roberts’ equally giant-sized grin.
Even if all you’ve ever wanted is for a mainstream drama to shed its clothes, Love & Other Drugs won’t satisfy.
Beneath the gloss is the deeply unsatisfying feeling that Zwick isn’t telling us enough about Parkinson’s.
And, when one long-term carer suggests to Jamie that the process isn’t worth it, he undermines the entire ethos of many a sound marriage whereby partners really do want to live up to the vows of their wedding day no matter what. GY
MIRAL * *
Cert 12A, 113 minutes
A lot of well-intentioned work has clearly gone into trying to tell the story of Miral, an orphaned girl who grows up in Israeli-occupied Palestine.
Played by Slumdog Millionaire’s Frieda Pinto, Miral understandably becomes politicised when she watches her village being bulldozed...
But director Julian Schnabel also wraps her story up in a down-the-decades trawl through Middle East history.
And the attempts of Hind Husseini (Haim Abbass) to establish an orphanage in Jerusalem following the partition of Palestine in 1948.
She is a kind, persuasive and steadfast character who says of the orphans: ‘I want them to know their identity and where they came from’.
Their stories and more are then entwined around the post-Second World War struggle to give Palestine a future but this film has nothing of the precise clarity of Schnabel’s 2007 masterpiece, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.
Some of the Miral’s stock material was provided by The Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archive of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the World Zionist Organisation and historians will doubltess appreciate the use of such flashbacks.
The 1965 Roman Polanski film Repulsion, about a sexually repressed woman, is also seen playing in a cinema.
But, though clearly worthy, this adaptation of the novel by journalist Ruth Jebreal lacks real emotional energy and doesn’t, for example, match the 2005 suicide bomber film Paradise Now or the 2003 documentary Paradise Lost.
And, of course, it won’t solve the Middle East crisis either.
Miral is showing at the Warwick Arts Centre from Monday to Thursday and also at the MAC in Cannon Hill Park from Saturday to Thursday. GY
GULLIVER’S TRAVELS * *
Cert PG, 89 mins
Regular cinema-goers have been subjected to Jack Black as Gulliver for months, appearing in a pre-film trailer advertising a mobile phone network.
That should be enough to put you off the actual film. It’s irritating enough at only about a minute long, so imagine an hour and a half of this brand of lame humour.
Yet, looking at the cast list, you might be seduced into thinking there was hope for the movie. After all, it features some of the cream of British comedy talent, including Catherine Tate, Billy Connolly, Chris O’Dowd and James Corden.
That’s the real shame about Gulliver’s Travels. It casts these stars and then gives them such a poor script that they struggle to show their ability. Tate and Corden have so little to do there was no point them showing up at all.
The plot is far from exciting and the special effects aren’t in the least bit special. There is nothing to be gained from making it in 3D.
The basic story remains of Swift’s classic novel, but it’s set in the present day. Blac is Lemuel Gulliver, who works in the post room of a New York newspaper.
He doesn’t seem to want to better himself or have the courage to ask out his crush, travel editor Darcy (Amanda Peet). But he does get her to send him on a travel writing assignment to the Bermuda Triangle, which gets him washed up on the beach in the land of Lilliput, where he’s a giant.
He’s captured and chained by nasty general Edward (Chris O’Dowd, having the most fun), though he’s freed by King Billy Connolly and Queen Catherine Tate when he defends Lilliput against its enemies.
He helps Horatio (Jason Segal) woo Princess Emily Blunt using song lyrics.
There are a few chuckles to be had, mainly thanks to his retelling his life as if he’s featured in Star Wars and Titanic, but it’s really not funny enough.
The main idea of a joke is seeing Black’s huge naked bottom land on a little man. Hilarious.
The two-minute short film tagged on at the start, featuring Scrat from Ice Age, has far more wit and imagination than the whole of Gulliver’s Travels.
But that is hardly worth the price of admission. Don’t bother travelling to your cinema to see it. RL