Who Wants to See Anne Hathaway's Breasts?

Article excerpt

Byline: Jennie Yabroff

A young woman asks her doctor to look at a mysterious bump on her breast. She unbuttons her shirt, opens her bra, and the doctor diagnoses the bump as a bug bite. The woman laughs off her overreaction--no one saw but the doctor and the observing intern in the white coat, right? Wrong. We, the audience saw, and for the next hour or so we're going to see a lot more of Anne Hathaway's body, along with most of the handsome intern's (Jake Gyllenhaal).

Love and Other Drugs is, despite its A-list stars, a fairly standard romantic drama. Jamie is a cocky drug rep (he pretends to be an intern to flatter the doctor); Maggie is the free spirit with an incurable disease who teaches him to love: Jerry Maguire Goes to the Hospital. But director Ed Zwick has higher aspirations, which he signals by not cutting away when Maggie undoes her blouse.

According to the logic of today's Hollywood, the fact that Hathaway and Gyllenhaal flash so much flesh is an indication of the film's artistic intent. Not so long ago (think Porky's era), gratuitous nude scenes were pretty much de rigueur for American actresses until they became big-enough stars to say no. But increasingly, nudity has become a self-congratulatory indication of European-style seriousness, an interruption of the narrative to remind the audience we are watching A Work of Art.

This is not to say nudity never works on screen. Brokeback Mountain, a film in which Gyllenhaal and Hathaway also partially disrobe, deals explicitly with the characters' shame and vulnerability, so the nudity feels not just natural but necessary. On the other hand, it can be just as jarring when an otherwise realistic film goes to absurd lengths to pretend the actors never see each other in less than their underwear or strategically wrapped sheets. …