Allow me to introduce myself. I am Anne Hathaway. Improbably hot, obsessed with sex (and not because I don’t get any); refusing to get close to anyone, or to let them get close to me. Like her character in the new film Love and Other Drugs, I have early onset Parkinson’s Disease. Not as early as hers but hey, give me a break here.
I saw the film on Wednesday. As 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 watching a romcom in the afternoon? I wanted to shout: ‘I’m here for the drugs, not the love!’
Sitting alone in a cinema is a passable imitation of the mental weight of Parkinson’s. I desire secrecy and revelation simultaneously. Everyone looks, but no-one sees. It’s an odd, not out-of but hiding-inside body experience.
Then came the movie. I was expecting a crass, exploitative, romanticised version of Parkinson’s. I could write about the symptoms, the clumsy way they show the tremor (they show the clumsiness better), but anyone who knows anything about Parkinson’s will tell you that both symptoms and progression are quite personal.
Unable to decide whether it’s a serious drama, a romcom, or a teen flick, the films ends up as Four Weddings and an American Love Story Pie. It has many, many flaws, but whoever wrote the damn thing got some stuff spot on. For me.
Hathaway’s character wants plenty of commitment-free sex. Her seduction line (apart from, two minutes after sitting down for coffee, “Shall we?”) 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 drugs (which can, in rare cases, include compulsive sexual behaviour) and well…
This disease destroys your sense of self, and your sense of self-worth. And nothing provides self-validation and insulation like a few hours of frenetic sexual activity. Sex makes me feel that I can, while taking me away from me. Being inside another body makes me forget my own, and its…