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visual analysis

Why Is Jake Gyllenhaal Covering His Mouth in the Love and Other Drugs Poster?

Love and Other Drugs is the Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway movie that has been marketed — depending on which trailer you saw — as both a sex-forward romantic comedy and a serious-illness weepie. At right is the poster for the film, which seems to position the movie as the former (naked movie stars smiling in bed = sex-forward romantic comedy) — or does it? Ask yourself, why is Jake Gyllenhaal covering his mouth with his hand?

Yes, this is nitpicky, but, also, strange! Really look at that—it gets weirder the longer you stare. What is going on? Is Jake trying not to laugh? His eyes aren't smiling. Is he surprised? He doesn't look it, and besides, what's he surprised about? That a photographer showed up in his bedroom? Is he making the universal sign for "speak no evil"? Again, why? The poster doesn’t convey enough information about his character, or his relationship, for us to think he has a problem running his mouth. Meanwhile, why is Hathaway so contentedly oblivious to whatever inner turmoil is going on with Jake and his mouth? He's not the one with a serious illness! She is! Is her illness the subtext of Jake's gesture? Like, don't ask Jake Gyllenhaal if this is a movie about Parkinson's disease or sex, because he won't tell you? He can keep a secret! This movie can keep a secret! The secret being, maybe it's not just a sex-forward romantic comedy? Woah. Clearly, we have now spent more than a reasonable amount of time pondering the meaning of this poster, and are not sure we have arrived at a satisfactory explanation. Can you help?