Love and other drugs – director’s cut

This, for those of you with obsessive tendencies, is my cut of the original. It is the pre-Prospect edition, and has several interesting differences, some of which ought to have been kept, some of which were rightly excised. It is a little ranty, but hey – what can I say? It serves its purpose.

Allow me to introduce myself. I am Anne Hathaway. Improbably hot, irresistible, obsessed with sex (and not because I don’t get any – trust me); far beyond loathe to get close to anyone, or to let them get close to me.

Wait, one more thing. Oh, that’s it, like her character, I have early onset PD. Not as early as hers but hey, give me a break here. Cards. Meet table. Ace up sleeve? I wish.

I haven’t seen the interviews where Hathaway bangs on about the film’s ‘message’ – had I done so, I might not have seen what I saw. As it was, I was expecting something very different. I could write about symptoms, the clumsy way they show the tremor (they show the clumsiness better), but anyone who knows anything about PD will tell you that both symptoms and progression are quite personal.

I walked into a lit cinema populated by coupled-up students and giggling, texting gaggles of girls. I felt astonishingly conspicuous. A 43-year-old man, on his own at romcom in the afternoon? I wanted to shout ‘I’m here for the drugs, not the love’, or maybe, ‘Me and Anne …’

I expected a crass, exploitative, romanticised version of the shit that hits on diagnosis and then dissemination. I was in danger of recreating the extended version of Freud’s kettle joke: ‘Fuck you and your kettle!’

Sitting alone in a cinema is a passable imitation of the mental weight of PD. I desire secrecy and revelation simultaneously. Isolation is insulation. Everyone looks, but no-one sees … it’s an odd, not out-of but hiding-inside body experience.

The film suffers from an inability to decide whether it’s a serious drama, a romcom, or a teen flick. Four Weddings and an American Love Story. It has many, many flaws, but whoever wrote the damn thing got some stuff spot on. For me.

Hathaway’s character is a slut, albeit one who paradoxically fucks only one man at a time, or so it appears. Her seduction line, apart from ‘shall we?’ two minutes after sitting down for coffee, is simple: ‘for you it’s not the sex, but an hour or two to relieve the pain of being you … that’s all I want too.’

Without putting too fine a point on it, I know how she feels. Add this desire to the side-effects of the dopamine agonists (in the rare category: compulsive gambling; compulsive eating; compulsive sexual behaviour. Let’s just say I’m still in great shape and my bank account is healthily in the black), and well …

Yes, the love story clunks, yes the sub-plot is crap, yes it drips sanctimony, at times it’s nauseating, it’s flawed, but get this – at points, I cried. Truly. Not for the fucking characters (get real) but for me.

This disease destroys the most important part of you, your sense of self, and your sense of self-worth. Now, nothing provides self-validation and insulation like like a few hours of frenetic sexual activity. Sex makes me feel that I can, while taking me apart from me. Being inside another body makes me forget mine, and its insufficiencies, inabilities, inadequacies. At some point, PD will probably render me impotent. Cheers.

Like Hathaway’s character, I have done everything I can to avoid getting attached, refused to call anyone my girlfriend, shrugged off the boyfriend tag, and sure as hell haven’t told anyone I love them (at least, not when it could have led to anything – oops). Why the fuck would anyone want me, who in ten years may well be a gurning, incontinent idiot? Children? Fuck off.

Yes, I’m ranting. I’m furious. Furious that while some of these points were dealt with quite beautifully, they were wrapped in a teen movie wrapped in a romcom. The rake (me) falls in love with a fragile, broken woman (er, also me) and heals her soul. Why so furious? Well, it’s ridiculous that they could sum up my life so well – PD has led me to live in a way that’s part farce, part black comedy, and yes, part Russian novel.

But there will be no happy ending. I am not getting better. I am getting worse, and will continue to do so.

Fuck, fuck, fuck.

That seems to be the most effective short-term therapy. Unless I can find someone who will do more than ‘pity fuck a sick boy’, without trying to own my disease, tell me about all those wonderful cures and therapies, and trying to heal my fucking soul. That I’ll let in.