Love & Other Drugs : Projecting Your Insecurities

With Jake Gyllenhaal playing Jamie Randall and Anne Hathaway playing Maggi Murdock, talk about an attractive casting. In fact, for Jamie’s character, it is one feature that he is not only aware of, but also uses it to his advantage. He uses his charm and charisma to get his way, especially with the ladies even when he was a salesman and later when he became a pharmaceutical drug rep. He uses the receptionist to get Maggi’s phone number and to get his samples displayed for the doctor. His charms, charisma and confidence make him a great salesperson irrespective of what the product it is that he has to sell. His qualities make him rise quickly in his job at Pfizer as the drug rep. Maggi, on the other hand, is in her mid twenties, diagnosed with Parkinson’s and is more to-the-point than Jamie who likes fun and games. She wears her personality on her sleeve which surprises Jamie who is usually great at figuring people out. Both characters are very different versions of themselves at an apparent level and at an actual level; Jamie appears very selfish and confident but actually struggles with feeling inadequate in front of his family and Maggi appears very straight-forward and sorted in her head, but as we see her relationship with Jamie mature, we see her looking for reasons to test his loyalty and push him to his breaking point and prompting him to abandon her.

Maggi is independent and has a lot of suitors and prefers casual relationships and she even rants to Jamie about not wanting to get serious at his simple remark of “This is nice”. So when in response he says “It’s not like I’m asking you to marry me”, she is offended and snaps back at him with a “I wouldn’t want to be with someone who was sick either.” She sees herself only as a Parkinson’s patient and not as a person that someone would want to be serious about. But she hides her insecurity behind her casual demeanour. Similarly, she tries to test his loyalty by first being very mean to him during a fight and when he still stays by her, she tells him that she almost went home with somebody. She feels like the more successful Jamie would get, the more of a burden she would become on him because of her disease and therefore keeps trying to look for reasons to push him away or disregard him when he is around. Maggi is a good example of someone who wallows in self-pity. Sure, her disease is horrible and she has every right to feel her sadness and frustration. But, in the process, she cannot get so self-involved that she only reduce herself to her disease. That Parkinson’s becomes her whole identity.

In Jamie’s case too, he is initially only interested in her because she rejects him and he finds that new and intriguing about her. It’s like he is with his family – he can appear indifferent and confident on the outside, but he has an innate desire to win the approval from people who show him the most coolness. So while he dropped out of medical school as a way of acting out against his family, he still exaggerates his success to them because he wants them to know and acknowledge and even appreciate his genius. His vulnerability is on display during one of the conversations between Jamie and Maggi when she asks him to list four good things he likes about himself and he comes up blank. And even when she prompts and lists him his positive qualities, he just looks shocked and asks “I am?” as if he has never previously had anyone pay that much attention to him or see him so kindly. That he has never received such positive feedback from anyone who is close to him, including his family. Which is why it is still understandable, albeit odd, that he has never said I love you to them or anyone else before.

As their relationship progresses, Jamie starts getting more and more concerned about Maggi’s health issues and reaches out to multiple doctors for second opinions and trials for treatment of Parkinson’s, which does not bode well for Maggi who starts feeling more and more of a burden on him because of her disease and she decided to call it quits. After the break-up, when Jamie runs into Maggi, despite the fact that the former has come to celebrate his huge career jump, he never talks about himself or his promotion and big move to the coveted Chicago city. He only asks her questions about her and he shows how responsible he has grown to be capable of for someone other than himself too. And later he wins her back with “Unfortunately, I need you. And you need me too. You need someone to take care of you. Everybody does.” With this statement, Jamie finds closure on his insecurities about his childhood and his family too. He accepts that he too needs and should be inclined to getting help from his closed ones and to lay his ghosts to bed.

You meet thousands of people and none of them really touch you. And then you meet one person and your life is changed forever.

Jamie Randall, Love & Other Drugs

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